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    Christy Carlson Romano Is Spilling All Sorts Of Disney Channel Tea On YouTube — Here’s Why We Can’t Look Away

    “I think social media gives these people the chance to really reclaim their careers and narratives in a way that the old conventional model of Hollywood wouldn’t.”

    On today's episode of BuzzFeed Daily, we broke down the top pop culture headlines AND discussed Christy Carlson Romano and her wild YouTube channel. You can listen below or scroll down to read more about the interview!

    Listen to BuzzFeed Daily on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever else you might listen to your favorite podcasts!

    So let's dive right into it! Recently our own Stephen LaConte broke down how 2000s Disney Channel icon Christy Carlson Romano has taken over YouTube — for better or worse. Here's some of what we learned:

    BuzzFeed Daily: So we wanted to have an in-depth conversation about Christy Carlson Romano, and, after we thought about it, there’s honestly no one who has a better understanding of this stage of her career than you do. Before we get into her most recent YouTube videos, can you give us a little history of Christy in her post-Disney career and some of the earlier content she was creating?

    View this video on YouTube

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    Stephen LaConte: Most people would know Christy Carlson Romano from Even Stevens, Cadet Kelly, and Kim Possible. She had a very illustrious career on the Disney Channel in the early 2000s. When Even Stevens ended, that was sort of the last time Disney fans really saw her from there. She was successful for a while. She was starring as Belle on Broadway. She was recording music. I think she wrote a book. But you know, as these things go with child stars at a certain point, you either launch or you don't. And for her, she kind of faded into the background for a while and for a long time. We just really weren't hearing from her. She was not in the public eye at all. She wasn't really acting. 

    Then about a few years ago, she launched this YouTube channel. Now, when she launched it — because I am a huge Christy Carlson Romano fan — I knew that the YouTube channel was there. However, in its first few years, it really didn't attract a lot of attention from the internet at large. It was mostly just videos of her cooking food in her kitchen, and it was all very wholesome, very squeaky-clean content, bringing in like some of her child star friends. And a video would go viral here and there. But for the most part, people still weren't aware that she was on YouTube and she just wasn't on people's radar until this very recent pivot. 

    BuzzFeed Daily: Now, Christy has recently pivoted into creating longer-form videos in which she shares a lot of details of her personal life. Can you break down what exactly these new videos look like, and what makes them so captivating to watch?

    View this video on YouTube

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    SL: Let's start with what they look like, because they all really look kind of similar. The structure of these videos is almost always her hiking through some beautiful nature spot in the woods. And compared to her old videos, which were highly produced, high production value, multiple camera setups, professional lighting and makeup, etc. this is really just one camera, her, and her hiking gear, and she's walking through the woods while the camera follows her and she's just telling stories from her life. So it's a much more acoustic version of Christy Carlson Romano on YouTube. 

    What makes them so captivating is just the content itself. The stories that she's telling now are much more personal than anything she's ever said before. She's detailing the struggles of being a child star growing up in the public eye, losing her money, struggling with alcoholism. She talks about struggling in relationships and all of these things, where before she was presenting a very PR-friendly, Disney-friendly image of herself. Now she is just laying it all on the line, and it is really, really interesting to listen to her stories. 

    BuzzFeed Daily: She really is laying it all on the line in these videos. She gets super personal and vulnerable, with jaw-dropping titles like "Am I Irrelevant?" and "How Psychics Scammed Me Out Of $60,000." It's hard to know whether to file it all under "totally cringe," or "totally brave." What do you think? Is Christy playing up the cringe factor for clicks, or is she just speaking her truth, regardless of how it might be perceived by others?

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    SL: This is a question that I ask myself a lot when I'm watching it. It's sort of hard to unpack to what degree she's aware of the cringe, versus oblivious to it. I've come to the conclusion that I think it's a little bit of both. On the cringe end of things, there's no denying that YouTube algorithmically is going to favor that kind of content. She seems to be very savvy at YouTube. I think she's done her research about what kinds of topics perform well. It's hard to deny that a video titled "Am I Irrelevant?" is going to perform much better than her old style of video that was maybe her making French toast in her kitchen. I think she's aware of that. 

    And then on the clickbait end of things, clickbait is this criticism that gets thrown at these YouTubers sometimes, but at the same time, they are competing in an environment where all videos look like that. So at a certain point, you either have to play the game or don't even bother at all. I think she's in it to win. I think she wants to become a big YouTuber. And this is the kind of stuff you have to do to get there. 

    But then on the flip side to that, I do think there is a real bravery element to what she's doing, and I think there is authenticity and truth to what she's speaking. This is really the first time she's been able to tell her story on her terms. And I think when you are someone who grew up in a more conventional old-school Hollywood model, where you never really got to speak for yourself — like when she was behind the Disney Channel veneer, she never got to say her truth. She had to do whatever the Disney party line was. So I think there's also probably freedom in being able to break out of that box and just say whatever the fuck she wants and not have to worry about it. But ultimately, I think for her, what it really comes down to is like whether it's cringy or whether it's brave, her checks clear either way. So I think it doesn't necessarily matter to her as long as people are watching and therefore giving her the views and the money. 

    BuzzFeed Daily: We all know that being a child star can be traumatizing on young children, or at the very least it can severely affect their development. It seemed like for a while Christy was falling into the regular trappings of post-Disney stardom — she even talked in one video about blowing all her earnings — but this recent shift seems like it’s allowing her to process her experience while simultaneously revitalizing her career. Do you think this could become a blueprint for other child stars?

    View this video on YouTube

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    SL: I absolutely do. And I think she's not even the one necessarily inventing this blueprint. I think she's executing it very well, but we've seen this from other child stars too, recently. And I think TikTok is a big outlet right now for former child stars to start reconnecting with their old audience and start telling their stories from their own perspectives, now that they're no longer hidden behind the entity that is Nickelodeon or Disney.

    I think what's so difficult about the path of being a "former child star" is that none of them really chose this life for themselves, right? These are people who were put onto television shows when they were minors. And that means that basically, even if they were really excited about doing it and really wanting to do it, they were not ever able to legally consent to doing that. Their parents made that choice for them. And now these people are 25, 30, 35, 40, and they're adults, and they kind of just have to make whatever lemonade they can out of these lemons because this was not a choice they made for themselves. I think social media gives these people the chance to really reclaim their careers and reclaim their narratives in a way that the old conventional model of Hollywood wouldn't. They would just become punch lines where they could either totally fade into oblivion, or maybe they have some scandals and become tabloid fodder. Now we have this new path where they can really own their journey and bring their fans onto their own pages.

    BuzzFeed Daily: We’re still very much in the middle of this Romano-saince, so it’s hard to know where Christy will go from here. But do you have any idea of where this new part of her career will lead to? Other than the YouTube videos, has she given any indication of what kind of work she wants to be doing?

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    SL: I mean, I think she wants a reboot. That seems to come up in more videos than you would expect of hers. I would say probably a good 30% of her videos eventually devolve into her pitch for why Even Stevens or Cadet Kelly or Kim Possible should have a reboot, to a point where sometimes like when you're watching it, you kind of have to laugh and be like, "OK, Christy."

    BuzzFeed Daily: Yeah, that makes sense. When [the new] Kim Possible came out, she was all over that, and as you informed me, she was also in it. So good for her. She is sneaking in there.

    Christy Carlson Romano as Poppy Blu in the live-action Kim Possible
    Disney Channel

    SL: Yes, and she played a villain in that live-action version while another girl played Kim. She has talked about the fact that if they ever reboot the animated version of Kim Possible, she still wants to do it. She says she would be very hurt if Disney did not cast her, so she really drew a line in the sand. She was like, "I'll be very upset if Disney reboots the animated show and does not cast me as Kim." For the live-action, it made sense to cast a teenager, but she's not letting go. 

    Now, I think a reboot is totally within reach for her because that's sort of the Disney+ model now. All of these millennials who grew up with these shows are now choosing what to turn on for their children to watch. So I think there's something smart about the fact that yeah, maybe an Even Stevens reboot where she's the mom, or a Cadet Kelly sequel where she's the principal of the school or whatever — that's going to be one reason that a millennial might bring that show into their own family. So I think that's within reach for her.

    We also discussed Taylor Swift's latest rerecording release.

    It never would have been possible to go back & remake my previous work, uncovering lost art & forgotten gems along the way if you hadn’t emboldened me. Red is about to be mine again, but it has always been ours. Now we begin again. Red (my version) is out https://t.co/ZUAWDuv4jL

    Twitter: @taylorswift13

    After almost a decade, a 10-minute-long version of “All Too Well,” from 2012’s Red, is out, and social media is predictably losing it.

    Jake Gyllenhaal, who the song is allegedly about, is the target of most of the jokes — one fan even tweeted “all too well 10 minute version really feels like jake gyllenhaal hurt me too” while another wrote “just listened all too well 10 minutes version” along with a photo of Jake with the caption “fuck you Jake Gyllenhaal.”

    Plus, after Brothers Osborne won Vocal Duo of the Year at the Country Music Awards, T.J. Osborne celebrated by sharing a history-making kiss with his boyfriend, Abi Ventura.

    Let me tell you seeing an openly gay man win a #CMA award & the cameras not cut away when he kissed his date, is not something I thought I’d see in my lifetime. Happy to be proven wrong. Hell yes TJ Osborne!!!!!

    Twitter: @trihardannette

    It was the first same-sex kiss in the history of the award show, and it turns out T.J. almost didn’t bring Abi because he worried about hateful reactions.

    He told Entertainment Tonight, “I was like, 'I hope this doesn't make anyone uncomfortable, but this is how I feel.' I love this person, and I want to be open in every way. Hopefully [this can] show people that they also don't need to hide or alter themselves in any way."

    As always, thanks for listening! And if you ever want to suggest stories or just want to say hi, you can reach us at daily@buzzfeed.com.