Celebrities

What Helped Rowan Blanchard After She Publicly Came Out as Queer

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Rowan Blanchard and Jake Short are two names you should know quite well. The 14-year-old actress has been changing the game on Disney Channel as Riley Matthews since 2014, when Girl Meets World first aired, and the 19-year-old actor has been dominating the network, too, from A.N.T. Farm to Mighty Med to Disney XD’s Lab Rats: Elite Force. So when we got the chance to chat with the two about their partnership with Danimals for its “Find the Golden Bongo” promo — which will award five lucky kids with an NFL Fuel Up to Play 60 Field Day with NFL pros for their entire school! — you can bet that we took it.

Read on to see what they told us about the campaign, plus their personal back-to-school stories, Girl Meets World and what helped Rowan after she publicly came out as queer:

Danimals

Danimals

On why she joined the campaign:

RB: “I know for me it was because Danimals promotes healthy living and getting active in schools and that’s all about what the Danimals and Play 60 campaign is about: getting kids outside and being active with each other and being together and having fun!”

On what it’s like to be a part of the Disney-Danimals tradition:

JS: “I actually remember going to the store and buy Danimals when I was 11-12 just because I saw the Sprouse [twins] Danimals commercial… It’s cool to be part of the tradition.”

On memorable school moments that relate to this experience:

RB: “I remember that we used to play Capture the Flag or something similar and it would be, like, a special Wednesday and all the kids would get together and I remember it being really awesome.”

On her personal form of exercise:

RB: “I know that I just turn on Beyonce. I don’t like to go to the gym, I don’t like to run around a track. I just turn on Beyonce and have all my friends over and we just dance it out. And that honestly burns a lot more calories than one would think.”

On why they think fans can relate so much to their characters:

RB: “I think on [Girl Meets World] there is a character that everyone can relate to personality wise and I think that’s something that attracts our audience. There’s a great variation of characters that can seem like your friends and teachers. I think, like, they could be a Riley or know a Maya.”

JS: “I was in HS on the first show I did and I think there’s a lot of troubles and not fitting in and we talked about that a lot and that’s what a lot of kids go through, unfortunately. Even when I went to school , I was really, really small and I felt a little left out at times, and I think our shows teach lessons and, although adults are on the show, they’ve experienced it, too, and help kids understand that they’re not alone.”

On moments on set that gave flashbacks:

RB: “We just filmed an episode, it hasn’t aired yet, but Danielle [Fishel], who plays Topanga directed it and wrote it. Yeah, she’s directing, writing, producing and starring on the episode, which is incredible. But the episode was about Riley having a big fight with her mom for the first time and filming that I had flashbacks to the first time my mom and I got into fights over, like, ‘You need to clean your room.’ ‘No, I want to go to a friend’s house.’ It will air sometime in November.”

JS: “On Mighty Med, I dealt with a lot of school stuff and one thing that I think is hard is trying to figure out how to balance doing school and work and extracurricular activities. So sometimes I struggled with that and finding a nice balance between everything that I wanted to do, but dedication and hard work are important but you always need to make sure you’re not over working yourself. I would get flashbacks.”

On being nervous about the reaction to her coming-out story/advice for others who are struggling with being true to themselves:

RB: “I still struggle with that, and I don’t think it will ever be something that you don’t struggle with. I think the first thing I would tell somebody is that it’s not something you’re going to completely forget about and I think there’s a comfort in knowing that this thing isn’t something that’s unbeatable; it’s something you live with. What helped me is finding friends who are accepting and people I see myself in. We were talking about how people turn to Disney and see representation and that’s how I feel with the TV shows I watch and the movies I consume, so I can find things with myself being represented in. The Internet is great for this, too; the Internet is such a huge space where there are so many different types of people that you can connect with and identify with.”

On back-to-school confidence tips:

JS: “I think we’ve all gone through that and had to separate yourself from one friend group and find another and it can be tough at first and you’ll want to look for ways to be like them, even though that’s not really who you are. Especially in Hollywood, I think that’s a big problem people struggle with. People will do exactly what people tell them to do because they want to be accepted and feel important. But as long as you feel happy and comfortable with who you are, feeling important is the least of your worries.”

On what she’s learned from her character:

RB: “I think something that I’ve learned from Riley is something that I’m still learning to use in my personal life and it’s her optimism and learning to look at the good side of things before the bad side; seeing how we can grow versus where we are not growing.”
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