Cameron Boyce kept referring to himself as a “regular kid” throughout our 15-minute phone interview from Los Angeles, California. But how many regular 16-year-old teenagers do you know is the star of Disney Channel movie Descendants and TV series Jessie, as well as the voice of Jake in the award-winning Jake And The Never Land Pirates kids show?
Boyce, who has been acting since he was eight years old – he made his movie debut in Mirrors opposite Kiefer Sutherland – insisted that nothing has changed. He cited maintaining a close relationship with the same group of friends he had before the TV stuff happened as the reason he still feels like a normal, every day guy.
“My friends are very present in my life. I still have friends from dance class and school that I talk to on a regular basis. That’s my regular kid stuff. I always try to find the time for the things I love,” he said.
Audiences started paying attention to Boyce as the mischevious, wisecracking Luke Ross in Jessie. When the Disney Channel series concluded last year, Boyce upgraded to a leading role in the new show Gamer’s Guide To Pretty Much Everything. He shared that getting an offer for the role is a huge validation for him.
“It feels really good to know that my hard work is recognised and appreciated. I thought it was cool that they want me to stick around for another series. I also looked forward to playing a leadership role. Jessie was previously led by Debby Ryan (who played Jessie); I’ve learned so much from her so it was good to be able to use that knowledge for this new experience.”
In Gamer’s Guide To Pretty Much Everything – Boyce plays Connor, a professional video gamer who is forced to take a break due a nasty thumb injury. However, his sponsors started cutting ties with him, so Connor can’t continue to compete, and has to go back to school and be a student again. While there, he meets a group of friends (played by Murray Wyatt Rundus, Felix Avitia and Sophie Reynolds), with whom he forms a team and start to practice for the World Gaming Pro Championship.
Boyce laughed when we asked if he is actually the grown-up version of Luke.
“There are some similarities! But Connor is a bit more mature while Luke is carefree and silly. Connor has a set of goals he wants to accomplish. He is dedicated to his craft as a professional gamer. I don’t know if Luke has any goals to accomplish apart from pranking people and causing mischief.”
In the show, there’s an aspect called the Gamer’s Vision where the characters imagine themselves as players in a video game to get through various everyday situations. It gets a little bit chaotic on the show because of the different quirky personalities.
“Connor’s job is to wrangle his teammates all together and get them to focus on one task. Which actually never happens because then the show will just be about people sitting around playing video games all day.”
Growing up, Boyce enjoyed watching other Disney Channel shows like That’s So Raven and Hannah Montana. He said it means a lot to now be a part of Disney.
“It’s an iconic thing. Disney talents are put on a different class. They have also provided a lot of opportunities for me. I’ve been working for five to six years now. It’s been a heck of a ride. I’m very grateful to them.”
When the opportunity came for Boyce to prove himself as a serious actor, he didn’t hesitate. Boyce recently caused a stir online when he posted a photo of himself covered in bruises and burnt marks, which turned out to be just makeup for a character he’s playing on medical drama Code Black.
But it was a dramatically different image for a young actor who has made a name for himself as a Disney Channel star. A few websites described the image as “disturbing”. But Boyce has no problems sharing that image.
“People generally put Disney stars in a different category. We’re not exactly actors or comedians. There is a stereotype. I just want people to know that I’m an actor first, along with other Disney kids who will be breaking stereotypes as well. I’m willing to do gory stuff along with comedy and drama.”
He explained that sharing the photo was about showing his fans that kids on Disney Channel have the potential for bigger things.
“We’re pushing ourselves. We should be showing our fans and audience that we are versatile. For me, sharing that photo was about telling my fans that I’m going to be on Code Black.
“I was so excited about it because people get to see a different side of me and realise that I’m serious about being a respectful actor.”
Gamer’s Guide To Pretty Much Everything airs Thusdays at 9pm on Disney XD (Astro Ch 617/637).