Cameron Boyce: ALL GROWN UP
By Lowell Taylor
Photographer: Juan Algarin
Stylist: Mike Stallings and Kenneth Crowder
Grooming: Andy Calero
At 18 years-old, Cameron Boyce is already a household name, especially if you’ve watched the Disney Channel at some point during the last 7 years. Best known for his roles as Luke Ross on Jessie and Carlos in the Descendants movies and shows, Cameron has matured to adulthood before our eyes.
Hot off of the successful Descendants 2 movie and recently having left Disney, I sat down with Cameron after the new year to find out what’s on the horizon for the young, talented multi-hyphenate actor-dancer-singer.
Thanks for taking time to meet up. Let’s get right to it, what question do you hate being asked so I don’t ask that one?
CAMERON: The only question I hate being asked is something I haven’t been asked in a while. When I was on Jesse people would ask all the time, “what is the biggest prank you ever pulled on set?” I was always like “We’re professional actors. I don’t know what you want me to tell you.” Did they think we sabotaged the entire episode and cost Disney thousands of dollars? [laughs}. Never understood that question. Otherwise, I really don’t hate any question, but if you come up with any creative one that I hate, I’ll say it.
I don’t know if that was a challenge, but challenge accepted. [laughs]
CAMERON: Throw it at me, I’m ready. [laughs]
You have spent most of your life in front of the camera, what was that like? Was it weird? Hard? Fun?
CAMERON: It’s funny because when I started acting, it was really random for me. I didn’t ever think it was my future if that makes any sense. I was just like: “This is something fun. Whatever.” And then I went to the Disney and it like threw me into the fire – so much so that everyone knew who I was and everyone sort of had this microscope on me at that point.
At first it sucked. I’m still such a normal kid and I’m super open about the struggles of that kind of life, but so many people aren’t. A lot of people in Hollywood, for whatever reason, want to keep everything secret.
For the first couple of years I was on Jessie, I just wanted to be normal kid. I wanted to go Six Flags and ride rides without having kids run up to me and look at me like I wasn’t just a kid. At first you sort of feel like an animal in the zoo because they point at you, they take pictures of you and you feel like everybody is watching you. Once I was at Disneyland, just there because I like the park, and then somebody came up to me and said: “Where’s the line?” Like I was an attraction! And I’m like: “You can totally take a picture. It’s not a big deal.” It’s not their fault they didn’t know, but you do feel like an attraction a lot of time.
So, I felt really out of place for a while. I felt isolated. So many of the things that I was used to doing, like going to the grocery store, became isolating so I was just like: “I think I’m going to stay home.” But then came a point in my life where I realized that, it’s not someone’s fault if they see me differently because of what I do. And as normal as I am or want to be, the reality is I love what I do and if what I do makes me a little different, I’m okay with it. I realized that when they come up to me or when they sort of sneak a photo of me, or sort of whisper bout me or point at me, it’s not because of anything other than the fact that they just appreciate what I do. When I looked at it from that perspective it really sort of flipped the script for me and I really began to appreciate it. I started to really have fun with it. Now I make eye contact and I wave at them. I do stupid things. [laughs] I’ll wave my hands around and they eventually sort of start laughing and they realize that I’m just a person, you know what I mean?
It’s weird growing up like that, but once you sort of figure it out and mature a little bit, it becomes something that’s fun if you make it that way. You just change the perspective in your mind. If you put yourself in a different mindset, it changes everything around you.
How has it been for you now that you’re 18? Are you like: “Look I’m 18. I’m not like a kid any more. I’m not Luke on Jessie”? How have people reacted to your transition into adulthood?
CAMERON: That’s a really good question, especially now with social media, when everybody sees every little change in you. People do still see me as a kid whether it be Luke on Jessie or whatever. They still do see me like that sometimes. My favorite thing is when they comment on my pictures saying: “Dude Shave.” I’m like: “I grow facial hair now. Sorry I’m 18. Puberty happened. I’m a legal adult. I apologize that I’ve grown up.”
Because they’ve watched you for so long, they feel connected to you. They feel like they own you in essence. They feel like: “Oh that’s not what, I paid for.” And for me it’s like, I’m so glad I can be my 13 year-old self and entertain you, but this is my thing and it’s my life. People see one little change and they go: “What happened to them?” You know what I mean? Especially with any artist who started at a young age. It’s interesting how, people see two or three years of somebody’s life when they are sort of in the public at the most and they associate that with their entire life. And that’s just not the case. People change.
Now you’re at an interesting transition point, you’ve recently left Disney and turned 18. How is all of that playing out? What do you have going on?
CAMERON: I’ve learned a lot honestly. 2017 was a weird year in that I was working really hard and I had a lot of things going on around me. My agent got in trouble for sexual misconduct, which is terrible and terrifying. All of that stuff kind of taught me that as crazy as it might be around you, it’s really important to narrow in on what you’re doing. I stripped down a lot of things in my life. I washed it clean a little bit. I was at that point where I was hanging out with random people and having fun – being a kid, but I realized towards the end of 2017 that I have a handful of really amazing people in my life who made me so much better and those were the people I narrowed in on. I really started to focus on myself too. Not that I was doing crazy shit, but I just sort of started to really focus on what it was that I wanted for my life. So many people when they are young they are like, I’m going to live forever, I’m going to go do crazy stuff. For me, I’ve never been that person that was like I’m just going to go party because I deserve it or I’m just going to go do crazy stuff. I’ve never been that guy. I think of myself on my deathbed and realize that I’m not going to regret that I didn’t party enough. I’m not going to regret that I didn’t make a stupid decision. What I’m going to regret is not pursuing my creative endeavors in the way that I wanted to. So, for me it’s about staying active and being ahead of the game.
I have so many people in my life that just have so much wisdom. So for me I just want to go and I want to pick up reigns and then eventually sort of create my own thing. So that’s what I’m really worrying about right now. I’ve been to Coachella. I don’t need to do it again. [laughs] I don’t have FOMO. I’m just sort of pursuing what it is I want and thinking about when is all over, what did I accomplish in that amount of time that I was given.
You mentioned that you are pursuing what you love doing. Seems like you have a lot of things that you’re good at and love doing. You’re the king of “slashies” – acting/singing/dancing. Are you thinking of branching out into any of your interest outside from acting?
CAMERON: That’s exactly what I’m talking about. What I really want to do at the end of the day is just touch everything. [laughs] I don’t know what everything is for me but people ask me all the time: “You’re pretty good acting and dancing and singing, do you want to do Broadway?” and I say: “yeah sure.”
I haven’t narrowed in on just one thing yet. It’s unfortunate that so many people in their life feel like they need to narrow in one thing and then stick with it. So many people are like: “I need to be secure…” and that’s our society, but I’m just so lucky because I get to make a living on just being creative.
Expressing something is so freeing. I was a dancer for a long time and dancers get paid shit. They don’t get paid anything, but even that was that freeing, you don’t have to do a 9 to 5. You can go and pursue stuff and just have fun, it’s amazing. I forgot the question. [laughs]
[laughs] Luckily, you answered it.
Now that you have a little more free time, what do you do for fun? What’s that guilty pleasure that you normally don’t have time to do?
CAMERON: I don’t know, I think playing 2K for sure, that’s one of my guilty pleasures. I’m also catching up with my Lakers now. I didn’t have time to watch all the games before. So now if I’m ever home at 5 o’clock or 7:30 – shout out to my Lakers! I never had time to do that before.
Looking at the horizon what do you see in the next year or two that makes you say: “I’m going to tackle that” or “That right there, is going to be my first big project”?
CAMERON: That’s a good question. I think for me in terms of work, I want to do something that puts me in such a different place. I want to get a job and have to move to some weird random place, in a crap town wherever and just be completely separated from my life. That’d be cool because I’m 18. I’m about to move out. I’m about to go out on my own journey. I actually have a friend who just was in Australia for like 5 or 6 months shooting a movie and he said: “dude I’ve learned so much about myself.” Because he was alone, he had to cook for himself, clean for himself, make sure that he was being responsible and make sure he was shopping – doing all that stuff. It was really sort of like a grown-up experience for him. That sort of struggle of like, I’m alone right now, helps you grow.
So for me, every time I get an audition that says this is going to shot in wherever, Louisiana, wherever Arkansas I’m always like that’d be really interesting. LA is my favorite city, it’s my comfort zone and I just don’t want to be in my comfort zone. So that’s what I want to do now.
In my early career, I’ve played everything from weird little nerd in the movie Grown Ups, to a smelly sort of good looking kid from Detroit who is just a boys boy in Jessie. I’ve just played random stuff because, I haven’t really said: “This is my lane.” So, in terms of a next role I want something that’s weird. I want something that is out there. Something that makes me go: “Oh shit! I’ve got to do that.”
People like Johnny Depp and Leo[nardo DiCapprio] they can just make themselves something different. I am nowhere near that obviously, but that’s what I see for myself. More than just sort of being the same person in everything. I want to be able to just do random stuff. And hopefully be good at it.
If you had the chance to work with anyone, who would it be?
CAMERON: It would be someone who is so different than me, but same in the sense that I would want them to be just as, if not way more, passionate than me. I’d want them to have something different to share with me, something that I don’t know, but I want to know and understand. There are so many people that I look up to and want to work with. I’m thinking Andre3000. I want to buy a timeshare in his brain, like what the hell! That guy is amazing. I love people who just sort of do what they want. That’s the coolest thing to me ever.
Donald Glover just like does what he wants – screw it, you know what I mean. So those are the kind of people that I want to be around. They do everything. Weird right? [Laughs]