The tittle of ‘Former Disney Star’ is nowadays almost synonymous with the description of ‘upcoming train wreck’. The once sincere notion of young performers entering the industry with innocent smiles has now quickly been replaced by children whom have forgotten their age. There is arguably an innocence lost, seemingly once the temptation of fame has been tasted the immediate reaction is to almost prove to spectators that one can handle the pressures of the industry. In an attempt to break the mould of being a child star and somewhat be taken seriously as a talent- pivoting away from blissful youth has somehow become the answer, as if rebellion against norm is the best conclusion.
Time and time again we have seen teenagers whom once made us laugh with innocent jibes on screen become unapologetic adults ready to take on the world- swear word by swear word, inappropriate post after inappropriate post. Young singers who sang about their first loves suddenly evolve into the headline clichés of a troubled maturity. From afar the insides of a Disney working environment appears to be an expensive playground filled with young laughs and lifelong friends. Yet despite what may be perceived Disney still and always will a business founded on the foundation of appearing youthfully fun. The pressures of the inner workings must naturally position those within to feel caught in the riptide of being young whilst also trying to prove themselves talented enough to graduate from their child personas. Many leave loudly and narcissistic but in quieter circumstances a few leave empowered by the pressure to go on to projects that properly reward rather than acknowledge their talent- Corey Fogelmanis is one of the few.
From re-inventing a 90’s classic program to suddenly starring alongside Academy award winner Octavia Spencer in the upcoming horror film ‘MA’ Corey has been busying. Working around the schedule and around the world, Fogelmanis post Disney life has been nothing short of hard work gradually being paid off. Instead of taking the typical route of trouble making and loud mouth talking that is almost expected from grown Disney alumni Corey has been growing as an artist. When prompted on why the celebrity status is not to his liking, the young man spoke mature for his age answering to the effect of there are other ways of having fun. In a generation where younger individuals are admiring famed figures from afar it is refreshing and to most parents relieving to know that there are still young stars that children and teenagers are able to admire and learn from.
We often hear tales of Disney being an incredible place to work and from an outside perspective it looks to be a place full of youth and joy. What was your experience like?
Corey: Yeah, I would definitely agree about it being a place of youth and joy. But I would also say there’s a whole other side to it that isn’t seen from the outside- that being that it’s a job and we were working long days (all legal of course! But as a fourteen year old, a nine to ten hour work day with a full load of classes was a lot). So, I would say that it was difficult but completely worth it just based on how much I drew from it- in terms of experience, knowledge and best-friendships.
Being so young in the industry and coming from the Disney Channel background- there is almost an inherited pressure to make a name for yourself or at the very least survive. How has your experience been like transitioning into more mature rolls?
Corey: I will say that there was some worry on my part after the show wrapped after its third season because as you said, it does seem like it’s sometimes difficult to transition into young adult actor post child actor. But pretty quickly out of the gate, most of that worry became something else that has been very beneficial for me. Finding the good in everything was something that came pretty easily to me but has rearranged the way I deal with the good and the bad in my life. So in terms of acting, projects/roles that didn’t end up going my way, I reasoned, were roles that I probably wasn't meant to give life to or wasn’t quite ready for in the first place.
With your latest project MA- you had the opportunity to work alongside Academy award winner Octavia Spencer. How was that experience for you?
Corey: I did, I did. How do I even express my gratitude- I feel so lucky. Octavia is incredible. She is so seasoned and the opportunity to watch her work on set was invaluable and not something that I feel like I could’ve gotten anywhere else. The experiences I had on set are (how do I not sound dramatic when I say this?) life changing.
What is the main difference you’ve noticed from your recent profile of works to your earlier days?
Corey: The obvious answer would be that the things I’ve been working on lately have been more maturely rated. But the main difference I’d say is how I personally feel about the work and how I approach it. I wouldn’t say that I wasn’t invested before, but it was definitely more of a passive process than it is for me now. I’ve been falling in love with acting and with being on set and that’s something that I don’t think was fully there in my earlier days, mostly due to being young.
So far which professional experience has been your favorite?
Corey: I have two! I shot a mini-series in London a couple years ago called PrankMe and that was a lovely time all around. And MA is definitely up there as my favorite. It marked a lot of firsts for me- my first studio film, first time traveling for work on my own, first time kissing an Academy Award Winner (kidding, but actually not!) and others. I’m super proud of the movie and I love the people that I made it with.
You now have the lead role in an upcoming Hulu series can you tell us about it?
Corey: I do. It’s an anthology horror/holiday series of films called ‘Into The Dark.’ My episode is the August film based around the idea of back to school, but with a fun Blumhouse twist. It’s crazy and I don’t think anyone (including me) is ready for it.
Currently with social issues being the topic of mind within the younger generation, which issue right now are you concerned about and wish people knew more about?
Corey: There are so many. One that I don’t think is being talked about at all, but I feel can be applied to everything, is this gross lack of empathy- for our planet, for women, for minorities, for those that are struggling, etc. It feels like we, collectively are forgetting that we are all human. I think we would be better served if we exhibited more patience and understanding for others, because we have no idea what people are going through. Love your fellow humans! I don’t know! It just feels like we’re missing something.
As someone who has been there before, what would you say to someone young who is wanting to get into the industry?
Corey: Learn as much as you can. Be in class, watch movies, read plays. And outside of those things, spend as much time living your life and having experiences. My current philosophy is that to grow as an actor, you first have to grow as a person. I certainly haven't been doing this long enough to know whether that is fully true, but I think that any incentive to further develop yourself for the better can’t hurt.
What would you tell your younger self?
Corey: I would tell my younger self the same thing I tell myself now: What other people think of you is none of your business. Basically, you have no control over how people see you and dwelling on others’ perceptions does nothing but damage your relationship with yourself. That being said, I still find this to be an incredibly difficult thing to do in my life. I would even go as far as saying that I believe it to be one of the main things causing the anxiety I feel when I come into contact with people I don’t know. I’m working on it.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Corey: This question makes me feel crazy. Acting, that’s for sure and definitely living in either Los Angeles or NYC. But other than that, there’s not much else that’s a given. I hope to be surrounding myself with people I love and who challenge me to be a better person and the same goes for projects/sets. I certainly don’t have everything figured out now so maybe in 10 years, I’ll be like 15% closer to understanding what is going on (in life).