Every generation has a group of kids they feel like they grew up "with" because they watched them on TV. For me, it's the Disney and Nickelodeon "class" of 1995 to 2005. They were examples of how to feel embarrassed by one's parents ("That's So Raven"), crimp certain parts of your hair and not others ("Lizzie McGuire"), and how to talk in loud, obnoxious voices ("All That"). So with Raven-Symone's impending return to TV on ABC Family's "State of Georgia," I'm taking a look at where my Disney and Nick role models are nowadays. I'll also assign superlatives to their adult lives and careers.
If you didn't witness Shia LaBeouf's career as a youngster, you probably have no idea why his career trajectory has seemed so strange to us who have. He first starred in a TV movie called "Tru Confessions," in which he played (quite convincingly) a developmentally disabled teen. Then he played a mischievous dork in "Even Stevens," "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," and "Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd." It's not that he seemed one-note; it's that if I had to peg one child star Steven Spielberg would see potential in as an "action" star, it wouldn't have been Shia. Now, he's not only the star of the "Transformers" franchise, he doesn't really do comedy at all anymore — see "New York, I Love You" and "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" for reference. Not exactly a dork anymore.
You're an idiot if you thought Nick Cannon was ever going to go away. It's not that he's incredibly talented — he is talented, but not like Bynes or LaBeouf — it's that he's loud, goofy, has to be heard, and seems incapable of functioning without the spotlight. So he's become a genius at self-promotion. After "All That" and "The Nick Cannon Show," Nick transitioned into movies and then back to comedy with MTV's "Wild N' Out." Now he does music, radio, comedy, serves as a TeenNick executive, and hosts "America's Got Talent." Nothing he does is exactly high-quality — it's that he just keeps doing it. And yes, he married Mariah Carey and they just had twins. How's that for staying in the public eye?
I personally believe there are about a billion people funnier than Kenan Thompson, and that's why I consider him lucky. While being sarcastic and shouting all of his lines worked when he was on "All That" and "Kenan & Kel," it's beyond tired on "Saturday Night Live." And it's likely his roles on Nickelodeon that led to his "SNL" casting. What do we like in our "SNL" players? Versatility — see Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, etc. What doesn't he have? Versatility.
Lizzie McGuire — Duff's Disney alter-ego — was my "ultimate" when I was younger. She was funny and sweet, and she had two amazing best friends and a supportive family. She was just a good kid. That's kind of exactly how Hilary Duff turned out. Her smartest move is probably not being crazy-involved with Hollywood, as far as acting goes, anymore. She's had her guest spots on "Gossip Girl" and "Community," but she also has books, a clothing line, a perfume, and does a ton of philanthropy work. Most uplifting of all? She's married and seems very happy.