The Disney Channel, which was launched in April 1983, will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. And, we couldn’t help but look back at the network’s track record for discovering, developing and nurturing Latino talent. From Christina Aguilera and Christina Milian to Selena Gomez and Bella Thorne, a large number of Latino stars have appeared on the Disney Channel in network’s hit sitcoms, original movies and family-oriented programming. Here’s a look at 36 Latinos who’ve have passed through the Mouse House during their careers.
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Yes, she’s one of the biggest stars on Nickelodeon. But before portraying Lola Martinez on the Zoey 101 and headlining her own star-making musical show Victorious, Victoria Justice brought some glitz to the second episode of the Disney Channel’s The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. In the episode entitled “The Fairest of Them All,” the 19-year-old half-Puerto Rican actress guest-starred as Rebecca, a young pageant contestant.
Daniella Monet has proven Victorious as Victoria Justice’s older sister Trina Vega on Nickelodeon’s hit musical sitcom. But the 23-year-old part-Chilean actress has one Suite citation on her resume. In 2008, Monet guest-starred as Dana on the Disney Channel’s The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.
Samantha Boscarino proved that she knows How to Rock when she played one of Kacey Simon’s (Cymphonique Miller) archrivals, Molly Garfunkel, on the Nickelodeon sitcom, which ended after one season on December 8, 2012. But the 18-year-old Ecuadorian and Italian American actress landed her first rockin’ television role in 2009 as a guest star on the Disney Channel’s JONAS, starring the Jonas Brothers. And, she’d go on to appear on two other Disney Channel shows; she guest-starred on the Wizards of Waverly Place and later landed a recurring role on Good Luck Charlie.
Ryan Ochoa could be rated “XD.” Disney XD, that is. Following his guest-starring role as Deuce on the network’s Zeke and Luther, the 16-year-old Hispanic American actor landed one of the lead roles, as saboteur-extraordinaire Lanny, on Disney XD’s Pair of Kings.
It’s been abundantly clear that Demi Lovato has The X Factor since her role as Angela on the children’s series Barney & Friends. But it was her role in the Disney Channel’s 2008 original movie Camp Rock that catapulted her into superstardom. Starring as aspiring young musician Mitchie Torres, the part-Mexican American actress outshined her Jonas Brothers co-stars in every scene. She’d go on to land her own original series on the network, Sonny with a Chance, as well as co-star in another Disney Channel original film Princess Protection Program with her then-BFF Selena Gomez.
Anna Maria Perez de Taglé
It should come as no surprise that Anna Maria Perez de Taglé is Enrique Iglesias’ cousin. The 22-year-old triple threat of Filipino, Irish and Spanish descent can sing, dance and act. She proved it when she starred as Ella in the Disney Channel’s original movies Camp Rock and Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam. Perez de Taglé, who has toured with her Camp Rock co-stars the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato, also appeared as a party guest on the Disney Channel’s JONAS and had a recurring role as Ashley Dewitt on Hannah Montana.
Chloe Bridges is currently making major ’80’s-inspired waves as Donna LaDonna on the CW's Sex and the City prequel, The Carrie Diaries. But the 21-year-old half-Honduran American actress was making music in 2010’s Disney Channel original movie Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam. Bridges, who played Nick Jonas’ character’s love interest Dana Turner in the sequel to Camp Rock, actually auditioned for the role of Mitchie Torres in the original movie, a role that ultimately went to Demi Lovato.
Maiara Walsh will always be a Meena girl! The 24-year-old half-Brazilian American actress, who currently stars as Simone on ABC Family’s Switched at Birth, got her big break portraying Meena Paroom, the daughter of the Bahavian ambassador, on the Disney Channel’s Cory in the House.
Christian Serratos may be best known for appearing in the Twilight movies. After all, her portrayal of Bella’s friend and classmate Angela Weber in Twilight even earned her a Young Artist Awards. But the 22-year-old part-Mexican American actress first film role came in the Disney Channel’s 2006 original movie Cow Belles, which starred the sister pop duo of Aly & AJ (Alyson Michalka and Amanda Michalka). And, she appeared in an episode of Hannah Montana the following year.
Following Selena Gomez’s departure from the Disney Channel, Bella Thorne became the network’s reigning Latina princess. Since November 2010, the 15-year-old half-Cuban American actress has been starring as aspiring dancer CeCe Jones on the highly popular buddy series Shake It Up, which was picked up for a third season last June. “Newcomers Bella Thorne and Zendaya make for one of the most likable and engaging BFF duos we've ever seen,” said Gary Marsh, the president of Disney Entertainment, in a press release announcing the show. In addition, Thorne has appeared on Gomez’s Wizards of Waverly Place and Good Luck Charlie.
Not since Rob Schneider’s Deuce Bigalow have we loved a Deuce as much as Adam Irigoyen’s character on the Disney Channel’s Shake It Up. The 15-year-old half-Cuban American actor, singer and dancer portrays Deuce Martinez, CeCe (Bella Thorne) and Rocky’s (Zendaya) long-time friend. Irigoyen, who made his big debut on the network in 2009 as a guest star on the Wizards of Waverly Place, appeared in “Charlie Shakes It Up,” the first-ever Shake It Up and Good Luck Charlie crossover event that aired in June 2011.
She may be trying to shed her Disney image in films like Spring Breakers, Behaving Badly and Getaway… But Selena Gomez will always be our beloved Alex Russo, the main character in the Disney Channel’s longest-running, three-time Emmy-winning series Wizards of Waverly Place. Gomez even portrayed Alex on The Suite Life on Deck and the network’s Wizards on Deck with Hannah Montana, a trilogy of crossover episodes that spanned across Wizards, The Suite Life on Deck and Hannah Montana. Maybe that’s why the 20-year-old half-Mexican American actress decided to return to Waverly Place in the network’s special The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex, set to air Friday March 15.
Jake T. Austin
Months before starring as Selena Gomez’s dim-witted brother on the Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place in October 2007, Jake T. Austin appeared in the Disney Channel original movie Johnny Kapahala: Back on Board. Austin portrays a bratty 12-year-old in the outdoor sports-themed sequel to the 1999 film Johnny Tsunami.
Josie Loren knows how to Make it or Break it. The 25-year-old Cuban American actress, best known for playing Kaylie Cruz on ABC Family’s gymnastics themed series, followed up her television debut on UPN/the CW’s Veronica Mars by guest-starring on Hannah Montana in 2006. And, she reappeared on the Disney Channel a year later as a guest star on Cory in the House. But Loren’s brightest Disney Channel moment came when she portrayed the object of Pete Ivey’s (Jason Dolley) affection, cheerleader Angela Morrisey, in Disney Channel’s original movie Hatching Pete.
It’s hard to believe Moisés Arias only started out with a recurring role as the scheming and spoiled Rico Suave on the Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana. Despite his character’s “evil” nature, the 18-year-old Colombian American actor proved to be a scene-stealer in each episode that he appeared in during the first season on the Miley Cyrus-starrer. Maybe that’s why he was upped to series regular in the show’s second season! In addition to starring on Hannah Montana, Arias has guest-starred on The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and Wizards of Waverly Place, as well as appeared in the Disney Channel original movie Dadnapped.
Mateo Arias, the younger brother of fellow Disney Channel star Moisés Arias, is kickin’ it on Disney XD. The 19-year-old Colombian American actor stars as the lone wolf Jerry on the network’s martial arts inspired comedy series Kickin’ It. But Arias’ first Disney Channel moment came when he guest-starred in the episode “I Will Always Loathe You” on his brother’s series Hannah Montana.
Since her first Disney Channel appearance in 2007 as a guest star on The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Raini Rodriguez has been the network’s best supporting actress. The 19-year-old Latina actress, Modern Family star Rico Rodriguez’s older sister, has starred on the Disney Channel’s music-themed sitcom Austin & Ally since 2011, portraying Ally's best friend and Austin's manager Patricia Maria de la Rosa. But you can just call her Trish, her nickname on the show.
It’s difficult to think of Rico Rodriguez as anyone but the Manny Delgado on ABC’s Modern Family. But the 14-year-old Latino actor, who just happens to have won three straight SAG Awards for best comedy ensemble, actually guest-starred in a couple of episodes on the Disney Channel’s Cory in the House back in 2007, and popped in an episode of Good Luck Charlie in 2011.
For more than three years, Lalaine Vergara-Para suitably fulfilled the duties of a best friend on the Disney Channel’s Lizzie McGuire, a show that was named the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards’ Favorite TV Show for two consecutive years back in 2002 and 2003. The 25-year-old Filipina actress with Spanish ancestry played Miranda Sanchez, Lizzie’s Mexican-American bestie.
Call him “tio!” Wilmer Valderrama has guest-starred on numerous television shows during his career, including the Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place. The 33-year-old Venezuelan/Colombian American played Theresa Russo's (Maria Canals Barrera) brother Ernesto, making him Selena Gomez and Jake T. Austin’s tio querido.
Before landing the lead role in Discovery Kids’ Darcy's Wild Life from 2004-2006, Sara Paxton got her start as a guest star on several television shows, including the Disney Channel’s Hilary Duff-starrer Lizzie McGuire. In a 2001 episode entitled “Election,” the 24-year-old half-Mexican American actress portrayed Holly, one of the ex-presidents at Lizzie’s escuela.
She had international hits like “Genie in a Bottle” and “Come on Over (All I Want Is You)“… But one of Christina Aguilera’s first songs featured the lyric, “M-I-C, See you real soon K-E-Y, Why? Because we like you. M-O-U-S-E.” Before getting “Dirrty,” the half-Ecuadorian American singer starred on the Disney Channel’s sketch comedy show The Mickey Mouse Club with Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling. And wouldn’t you know it, the Grammy-winning The Voice coach was dubbed "the Diva" at the Club because of her big voice and performance style.
Following her success as a member of the all-girl trio 3LW, Adrienne Bailon became a Cheetah! The 29-year-old Puerto Rican/Ecuadorian American singer/actress starred alongside Raven-Symoné in the 2003 Disney Channel original movie The Cheetah Girls, a 2003 musical about four teen sensations who join voices to create a poptastic girl group. Bailon would go on to serve as the group’s lead singer when Raven-Symoné left the group and star in the Cheetah follow-up films, The Cheetah Girls 2 and The Cheetah Girls: One World.
Camilla Belle’s performance as Daniel Day-Lewis’ daughter in The Ballad of Jack and Rose earned her a Gotham Awards Breakthrough Award nomination. But it was her appearance in the 2000 Disney Channel original movie Rip Girls, the half-Brazilian American actress’ first lead role, that put her on the Hollywood map. Her performance as Sydney Miller, a 13-year-old who returns to her homeland of Hawaii with her father, earned her a Young Artist Award nomination.
It’s no wonder The Voice’s Social Media Coordinator Christina Milian is such a great interviewer. Before releasing hit singles like “AM to PM” and “Dip It Low,” the 31-year-old Cuban American singer-songwriter worked as a host for the Disney Channel when she first moved to Los Angeles to pursue a singing and acting career.
Daniel R. Escobar
He may not have a recognizable name, but any Lizzie McGuire fans will surely recognize Daniel R. Escobar’s face. Portraying Mr. Escobar on the Disney Channel series, he served as the drama/chorus teacher and oversaw detention at Lizzie’s school.
Gabriela Rodriguez has had a short stint on the Disney Channel. Figuratively, that is. The 19-year-old Latina actress appeared on the network’s short show As the Bell Rings, which is a play on the daytime soap As the World Turns. Rodriguez portrayed the super smart character of Brooke Nichols on the show, which consisted of five-minute live-action comedy sequences. Based on the Disney Channel Italy’s Quelli dell'intervallo, the series aired for two seasons, from August 2007 to April 2009.
Johnny Ray Rodríguez
Johnny Ray Rodriguez knows how to make an entrance. The Puerto Rican actor starred as General Magnus Kane in Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez’s Disney Channel original movie Princess Protection Program. As the dictator of Costa Estrella, the neighboring country to Princess Rosalinda Maria Montoya Fiore’s (Lovato) Costa Luna, he stages an invasion while she rehearses for her coronation and tries to capture her entire family and take over their country. Luckily, Lovato’s character got away and was taken into princess protection!
María Canals Barrera
María Canals Barrera has the distinct honor of playing mother to Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato, two of the Disney Channel’s most popular Latina princesses ever. The 46-year-old Cuban-Catalan-American actress is best known for portraying Gomez’s madre Theresa Russo on Wizards of Waverly Place. But she also played Lovato’s mom Connie Torres in the network’s original movie Camp Rock, as well as its sequel Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam.
Peter Vives knows how to wrangle cheetahs… The Spanish actor, singer and classical pianist starred as Angel, the mysterious guitar player who escorts the Cheetah Girls around Barcelona as Adrienne Bailon and the girls perform throughout the Spanish city, in The Cheetah Girls 2. Vives , who sings and plays guitar in the Disney Channel original movie, even manages to strike up a little romance with Galleria (Raven-Symoné).
Long before competing on the fifth season of Dancing with the Stars and Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars, Sabrina Bryan demonstrated her killer dance moves as a Cheetah Girl. The 28-year-old half-Mexican American singer, dancer and actress got her big break starring as Dorinda Thomas in the Disney Channel’s highly popular original movies The Cheetah Girls, The Cheetah Girls 2 and The Cheetah Girls: One World.
Simenona Martinez isn’t just an accomplished thespian, documentary filmmaker, writer, recording artist and philanthropist. The 26-year-old Honduran/Cuban American multi-hyphenate is also a Disney Channel alumna. Martinez served as the host of the Disney Channel’s Playhouse Disney show Behind the Ears, which aired on the network from 2006–2009.
Sully Diaz is Disney Channel royalty, of sorts. The 52-year-old Puerto Rican actress and singer, who has shared the screen with the likes of Roselyn Sanchez, Robert Downey Jr. and Anthony Quinn, played Queen Sophia Fioré of Costa Luna, Demi Lovato’s characters captured mother, in the network’s original movie Princess Protection Program.
Raymond Ochoa proves being a Disney Channel star is all in the family… The 11-year-old Latino actor, Ryan Ochoa’s hermanito, has appeared on his brother’s Disney XD series Pair of Kings. He even played Young Lanny, the younger version of his brother’s character, in one episode. Ochoa has also guest-starred on Good Luck Charlie.
The late Lupe Ontiveros, who passed away at the age of 69 last July, appeared in nearly 100 films and television shows, including an Emmy-nominated stint as Carlos’ mom on Desperate Housewives. The great Mexican American actress even had an opportunity to visit the Mouse House. Ontiveros guest-starred on the Disney Channel’s politically themed sitcom Cory in the House.
Madison De La Garza
Madison De La Garza may have achieved her own success as Juanita Solis, Eva Longoria’s daughter on Desperate Housewives. But that didn’t keep her from appearing on her older half-sister Demi Lovato’s Disney Channel projects. The 11-year-old actress made a cameo appearance in Lovato’s original movie Princess Protection Program; and she guest-starred as Young Sonny as a Blossom Scout in her sister’s hit sitcom Sonny with a Chance.