Dove Cameron and I have just met when the disquieting reality sets in. The 25-year-old actor opens our Zoom conversation with a poetic observation about “atomic, golden sparks” of human connection, and any expectations for pat and easy answers filtered through the peppy teen queens she portrays on screen are out the window. “I hate being on autopilot,” she says with a smile. She removes a piece of gum from her mouth and shifts closer to the camera. “Who’s Dove Cameron?” she muses. “Let’s find out.”
Photography by Kristen Jan Wong
Cameron is best known for playing children, even though she hasn't been one for the better part of a decade. She did double duty over the course of four seasons embodying the titular twins of Disney’s Liv and Maddie; she played Mal, the headstrong daughter of Maleficent, inDisney’s Descendants movie franchise; and holds Broadway stage credits for her roles as teens in Hairspray Live! and Clueless, The Musical. She’s come to be beloved for her wholesome, effervescent mien, a public image built to stoke the adulation of her tween fans and set to put parents’ fears to rest. (You could link her appeal to her bubbly personality, and you’d be correct — she plays Bubbles in Diablo Cody’s forthcoming live-action CW series Powerpuff Girls.) A different side of Cameron comes through in her solo music, moody singles unlike anything in the Disney songbook. On Instagram, another dimension reveals itself. Cameron’s grid is a quilt of glamorous shots of a gorgeous young woman falling in and out of love, replete with crying selfies and captions about anxiety attacks. It is the kind of candor typically saved for the drafts folder, not blasted to 43.5 million followers.
Complicated, agreable, defiant, conventional, carnal, chaste, nuanced, hypocritical. Cameron is all of these things, and to varying degrees, depending on the point of encounter. No matter the medium, though, she is an exciting woman, a 5’2” supernova who has steadily been challenging the dominant paradigm of what a rising star looks and acts like. If Cameron is the latest in a long history of Hollywood girls next door, bolstered by the Disney machine she’ll no doubt one day exit, she’s the latest living proof that the stereotype never should have existed in the first place.
“I’ve had the feeling of being missed — misunderstood based on a carefully curated image I didn’t curate,” Cameron says from her chic Los Angeles loft. “[But] the idea of never being seen is an absolute terror. It is much scarier than being concerned with how you appear. I don’t care at all about public perception as much as I care about my own level of self-awareness. [But] my relationship with validation is evolving.” She adds a joke, “There's a Venn diagram of performers and people who need validation, and they're almost the same circle. Everybody knows that.”
Photography by Kristen Jan Wong
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There she is. Bright green eyes smiling, blonde beachy waves, dark lips ombre’d to the gods, a pitch-perfect laugh, tasteful tattoos, an infectious charisma, Dove Cameron. Ask her a serious question and she’ll take you by the hand and lead you into the confessional booth. For a Disney star, a woman whose life and relationships have been meticulously documented by her fans and herself for most of her life, the truth is: No one truly knows Dove Cameron.
It’s not even her real name. Cameron was born Chloe Celeste Hosterman on January 15, 1996, in Bainbridge Island, WA. (Her good friends and lovers refer to her as “Chloe;” it’s “Dove” for the rest of us.) At 25, she has already lived a few lives. When she was 8, her best friend was murdered by her father, who then murdered his other daughter and took his own life. Cameron was 15 when her own father died by suicide — inspiring her to legally change her name to “Dove,” her father’s nickname for her. When she was 23, Dove’s good friend and Descendants’ co-star Cameron Boyce suddenly passed away from epilepsy, at age 20. The tattoo of a pistol with a rose emerging from its barrel on her wrist is in his honor. “Cameron was very passionate about gun control and giving children artistic outlets and alternatives to violent lives,” she says. “We grew up in a culture that is so desensitized to human loss at the hands of firearms. It's not even a political issue, it's a fucking common-sense issue.” Her activism stems from a deep personal place. “I don't actually feel responsibility for anything, ever. I don't feel like a role model. That’s not purely intended. I act on things because they’re important, and it would be a devastating waste not to use a massive platform to speak up.”
Photography by Kristen Jan Wong
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Of course, Cameron is more than her tragedies: When she was 14, she and her mother moved to Los Angeles so Dove, who had been increasingly involved in regional theater, could pursue her acting career. By 16, she landed the lead on Liv & Maddie — an overnight success by any Hollywood metric — playing twins with opposite personalities. On set she fell for her on-screen love interest, Ryan McCartan. By 20, she was affianced. Six months later, she was not. “I fall so in love with people,” she says. “It’s like, ‘Oh my god, the world is new, everything I thought I knew before is a fucking lie, we're all going to die tonight and live forever.’” Two years after breaking off the engagement, Cameron met Scottish actor Thomas Doherty (he plays queer dreamboat Max in the HBOMax Gossip Girl reboot) on the set of Descendants. They dated for nearly three years before breaking up last year, mid-pandemic, while Cameron was shooting Schmigadoon!, executive producer Lorne Michaels’s (SNL) meta comedy about a couple that gets trapped in an old-fashioned musical. The heartbreak was severe. “It’s messy right now. I’m dating a couple people,” Cameron says. “It’s pretty watery, the intimacy of the world that I find myself in now.”
Photography by Kristen Jan Wong
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A bisexual Francophile who falls hard and fast, Cameron has always been a romantic. “There was a girl, her name was Erin, we met in theater [class],” she recalls. “We were having a bath, as 8-year-olds do. She was washing my hair, and she said, ‘I love you, I’m in love with you.’ I was like, ‘I’m in love with you, too.’ We were 8, but it continued from there into our early adulthood — we held hands, we would kiss, it was early love.” She always knew she wasn’t straight. “When girls were getting crushes on boys, I was also getting crushes on boys, but I was also getting crushes on girls.” She waited until an Instagram Live session in 2020 to publicly come out and put an end to the ambiguity. “Guys, I really needed to explain something to you,” she said to her fans. “Maybe I haven't said it, but I'm super queer.” It was revelatory for her followers, but it wasn’t until her June 2021 Gay Times cover that her bisexuality seemed to stick publicly. “People need me to have a fucking megaphone,” she says. “I came out a year ago and thought that was going to be it. I didn’t realize that nobody fucking knew.”
It’s hard to imagine an openly queer Disney starlet thriving even just a few years ago, in the era of Demi, Selena, and Miley. “When I went into the industry, there was so much performative femininity happening, especially around 2012, especially being blonde on the Disney Channel. I didn't stand a fucking chance,” she explains. “Being 15 years old, my father had just passed away, and there was a lot of looking for male validation, right? Trying to please a massive corporation like Disney, I never had a conversation with them about my sexuality. They never asked me to hide anything,” she says of her straight-passing identity. “It’s more that people see me and go, ‘Oh, femme, straight, heterosexual, blonde.’ Who is going to look at me and guess otherwise? Everybody knew Kristen Stewart was gay. Nobody is going to think I'm gay. Nobody.”
Instead of ruminating on the ways in which public perception places limits on who she really is, Dove resolves to “zoom out” of the things she cannot change, what she calls “mortal problems,” and focus on what is most important: her sense of self. “I need to prioritize the quality of my personal life. It feels like it would be exhausting, and disappointing, and unnecessarily disruptive to buck against [my image,]” she continues. “I would have to work unnaturally hard to rage against my public image, and there's something really inauthentic about that.”
Photography by Kristen Jan Wong
If that sounds self-actualized, there’s good reason. She’s motivated by what she describes as “a compulsive and deep need to protect [her] humanity,” which manifests in candid conversations about mental health, the kind of wisdom that comes from therapy. “I don't need the world to know that I have been through unending dark nights of the soul, limitless periods of chronic depression, anxiety, trauma, loss, and tragedy. I don't need to livestream it,” she says. When she does share intimate details about her life, it is a “healthy practice” meant to “refresh my human juices,” she says. “It's the same reason I go and get tattoos so often. It's like, ‘I'm alive, I own this body, I have full autonomy. I'm human.’ I'm always in process. I just stumbled across a troth of depression.”
Photography by Kristen Jan Wong
Schmigadoon!, Cameron’s latest project, coming to Apple TV+ July 16, is a musical comedy that parodies antiquated tropes of the sing-along genre. Set in the 1940s, the series features an all-star cast: Saturday Night Live’s Cecily Strong, Alan Cumming, Keegan-Michael Key, and Kristin Chenoweth, whom Cameron worked with on Descendants and Hairspray, Live. “Professional and kind, giggly and happy,” is how the Broadway legend describes Cameron. “I never had children, but I have many in my life that I love and take care of,” Chenoweth says. “I do consider her mine.”
Cameron plays Betsy, an all-American blonde bombshell in pigtails and a form-fitting country-girl dress. You could call Betsy the physical manifestation of the male gaze. You could also call her a parodic expression of the system that has misunderstood the woman cast to play her for so long, delivered with subversive humor. “Betsy is a joke. Her whole thing is one big joke. Everything that she says and does is sending feminism back 50 years, and that's why it's funny,” says Cameron. “I love playing over-the-top characters. I don't ever want to play a character that I find boring. Obviously, [Betsy]'s sexist as fuck, but we say that.”
The real genius in the performance (no spoilers!) is Cameron’s delivery — toppling a stereotype often used, in real life, to limit so many women. British actor Alan Cumming was dazzled by Cameron’s brilliantly self-aware performance. “She’s the busty wench girl with the angry father,” he says. “She brought such wit to it. It’s great when someone understands the parody that they’re doing and can almost parody themself, in a way… She’s very kind, very thoughtful, and I really think that – when you consider the industry that she’s in and how long she’s been in it – is a miracle.”
While Cameron waits for the July 16 premiere of Schmigadoon!, a series whose sensibility is “so crazy, I just can’t believe we’re getting away with it,” she’s working on her debut solo record. Don’t get too excited, but she has been collaborating with her good friend Finneas O’Connell, Billie Eilish’s brother and producer. “It’s been amazing to spend time with him. We talk about everything from epigenetics to quantum physics, to our favorite bagel place, to the way that we felt like we were freaks our whole life, and what his uncle said.” she explains. Their work is still nascent, and any details under wraps. What she will say is that she’s bending to nobody’s desire to make work that lends itself to categorization.
“I don’t want to pick a sound,” she says. “That makes me hard to market, and that’s what I'm really grappling with right now. But there is a through line in my songs: They have a sense of humor, they have a sense of camp, they have a sense of a nudge and a wink.”
She may as well be describing herself: abstract, fluid, darkly funny, theatrical — a combination of the characters she’s portrayed on screen and the multi-dimensional person she is off it. At long last, and on record, the multiplicities of Dove Cameron will be on full display.
Cameron, who worked with Boyce on the Disney fantasy franchise since 2015, recalled in an interview with Seventeen Magazine that she received a number of messages to inform her that Boyce had died. “I was nervous about why I could be getting so many texts and calls, so I only looked at my mother's text,” she said.Did Dove Cameron date Cameron Boyce? ›
Throughout his time in the spotlight, Cameron was linked to a few of his costars, but never went public with a relationship. Descendants viewers always wondered if he and costars Dove Cameron or Sofia Carson were more than friends, but he set the record straight. “I'm dating five people.Why did Dove Cameron legally change her name? ›
Born Chloe Celeste Hoffman, the actress legally changed her name to Dove as a tribute to her late father, who called her that as a nickname. "He called me Dove more than he ever called me Chloe," she told StyleWatch. "He passed away when I was 15, and I decided to legally change it.
Over the years, many of Dove's fans have sent her well wishes and words of support and have been rewarded with replies via her Twitter account reacting to the letters they sent. She sure knows how to make her fans feel appreciated!Why did Cameron Boyce have a seizure? ›
“Cameron's tragic passing was due to a seizure as a result of an ongoing medical condition, and that condition was epilepsy,” a Boyce family spokesperson told ABC News in a statement on Tuesday night.Did Cameron Boyce have seizures before he died? ›
Libby and Victor Boyce didn't expect to wake one morning to their otherwise healthy son, Cameron, having a seizure. They didn't expect Cameron to receive an epilepsy diagnosis and experience several more seizures all within the span of three years—the final proving fatal. But that's what happened.Did Dove Cameron have a baby? ›
“Professional and kind, giggly and happy,” is how the Broadway legend describes Cameron. “I never had children, but I have many in my life that I love and take care of,” Chenoweth says.Did Dove Cameron get married? ›
Although Dove and the Gossip Girl actor were together for four years, they never got engaged. Even so, fans were shocked to learn about their split in December 2020. “In October, @thomasadoherty and I decided to part ways,” the Liv and Maddie alum tweeted at the time.Who is Dove Cameron's ex fiance? ›
Dove Cameron's Ex-Fiance Ryan McCartan Claims She Cheated on Him Before 2016 Split | Entertainment Tonight.Did Dove Cameron leave Disney? ›
While Dove explained that her new music is poles apart from what she was doing before, the songstress went on to clarify that it wasn't entirely because of moving on from Disney Channel. “I also want to just clarify it wasn't like I left Disney Channel and everything changed, ” she shared.
Dove Olivia Cameron was born Chloe Celeste Hosterman on January 15, 1996 in Bainbridge Island, Washington to Bonnie J.Is Maddie Dove Cameron? ›
A significant feature of the series is that Dove Cameron plays dual roles, one being Liv, an actress who has returned to her home after starring on a popular television series in Hollywood for four years, and the other one being Maddie, Liv's identical twin who remained behind.Who was Dove Cameron's first kiss? ›
Although Dove's first kiss wasn't on camera, it was still in front of a lot of people! Get this, she had to smooch her Cloud 9 costar Luke during the audition process! “We had to kiss in the audition in order to get our roles,” the Descendants actress told Seventeen Magazine. “I was so shy you guys, so intimidated.Do Dove Cameron's friends call her Chloe? ›
What is Dove Cameron's real name? Chloe Celeste Hosterman, and although those closest to her still call her "Chloe," she got her name legally changed to "Dove" as an homage to her father. "So basically, Chloe is my birth name.Why did Dove Cameron deleted all her songs? ›
Cameron said she reset her public music catalog because she wasn't “writing about (her) life” in those songs: "I was writing about what I thought people wanted to hear from me.” “I think a lot of fans are disappointed that that music went away.Was Cameron Boyce awake when he died? ›
Boyce was just 20 years old when he died July 6 after suffering a seizure in his sleep caused by epilepsy.What causes death in SUDEP? ›
Breathing changes: A seizure may cause a person to have pauses in breathing. If these pauses last too long, they can reduce the oxygen in the blood to a dangerous level. Also, if a person's airway gets blocked during a seizure, that can lead to suffocation.What are the 4 types of epilepsy? ›
Tonic: Muscles in the body become stiff. Atonic: Muscles in the body relax. Myoclonic: Short jerking in parts of the body. Clonic: Periods of shaking or jerking parts on the body.What were Cameron Boyce's last words? ›
Before Disney star Cameron Boyce's untimely passing, he imparted words of wisdom in his final interview: "Don't judge a book by its cover."Are seizures painful? ›
In general, the actual experience of having a seizure does not hurt. Pain during seizures is rare . Some types of seizures make you lose consciousness. In this case, you won't feel pain during the seizure.
In an interview, Cameron's parents Libby and Victor revealed that Cameron had his first seizure aged 16 and that he only had five seizures in his entire life – all of which occurred in his sleep.What happened to Dove Cameron's lips? ›
The actress has admitted to getting lip fillers done in the past, and she's never done anything to hide her decision from fans. The actress recently revealed that Dove Cameron had lip filler done before and that she would get them again in the future.Is Dove Cameron in descendants 4? ›
It's reported that pop star Dove Cameron (who played the lead character Mal), Sofia Carson (who plays Evie, the Evil Queen's daughter) and Booboo Stewart (who plays as Jafar's son, Jay) won't be in the film.Are Liv and Maddie really twins in real life? ›
They're played by Emmy Mattingly and Shelby Wulfert, who are the body doubles for the twins credited as "Liv 2" and "Maddie 2" in every episode. Tenzing Norgay Trainor (Parker) is related to famous mountain climber Tenzing Norgay.How many exes does Dove Cameron have? ›
“I am not, by nature, somebody's girlfriend, by any means,” she added. During an April 2021 interview with NYLON, Dove opened up about her dating life. “I've never been on a real date!” she admitted “I've only dated two people and I fell in love with them at work.Is Dove Cameron's Mom? ›
Wizards of Waverly Place aired its last season in 2012, just when Dove landed Liv and Maddie at 16. (The series then premiered in 2013, when Dove was 17.) However, the timing was not the only thing the two stars had in common.What was Dove Cameron's last relationship? ›
No, Dove Cameron is not married. She was, however, once engaged to Ryan McCartan in 2016. Their relationship almost resulted in a marriage.Does Dove Cameron have a tattoo? ›
Dove Cameron is opening up about getting her first tattoo, which was at the young age of 14. The 27-year-old actress and singer dished on hiding it from her parents and just how she told them about it, while appearing on The Drew Barrymore Show, airing Wednesday (May 3). "My very first tattoo.Why did Dove Cameron dye her hair? ›
"I genuinely felt like dyeing my hair was a total identity shift for me," Cameron, 26, said. "I have so much genuine, emotional pain attached to being a blonde." "When I dyed my hair, it was a reclamation of deciding who I was versus who I felt I always had to be," she continued.
I'm closer with them than I am some of my blood relatives.” The two reunited as recent as June 2022 to honor their late friend and fellow Descendants costar Cameron Boyce, who died in July 2019 from epilepsy and SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy).How old is Dove Cameron in Descendants 1? › Who did Dove Cameron play in Star Wars? ›
Dove Olivia Cameron (born Chloe Celeste Hosterman; January 15, 1996) is an American actress and singer who voices Becky Smoochenbacher in LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures.What color are Dove Cameron's eyes? ›
Plus, Dove Cameron's eyes are green-ish. If you look closely at her animated version of Descendants: Wicked World, her eyes are actually grey, and only turn bright green when she uses magic.Why did Dove change her middle name to Olivia? ›
The answer was that Cameron didn't get a chance to say goodbye to her dad, so she wanted a special way to honor his memory. Hosterman's nickname for his daughter was always "Dove," so the actress felt it was a natural choice.Does Dove Cameron have a condition? ›
At the time, she felt like "always the strange outlier," she explained, "who doesn't belong and who will never fit in." "I had huge impostor syndrome," she admitted. "I felt like I was wearing a rubber mask or something." Still, Dove never tried to emulate anyone else's journey.Is Dove and Cameron siblings? › How long was Dove Cameron dating Thomas? ›
Dove Cameron and Thomas Doherty officially called it quits in October 2020 after three years together. The Descendants actress took to social media and announced the news of their split two months after they broke things off.Who is Dove's sister? ›
Early life. Cameron was born Chloe Celeste Hosterman on January 15, 1996, in Bainbridge Island, Washington, to Philip Alan Hosterman and Bonnie Wallace, who later divorced. She has an older sister, Claire Hosterman, who is a vocal coach.Who is Dove Cameron's double? ›
Meet Shelby Wulfert — Dove's stunt double who filled in for her in almost all the scenes where you see Liv and Maddie at the same time. Yep, along with Shelby, they also used camera angles and special effects to make it seem like Dove was in two places at once.
However, Dove has no hard feelings about the casting; she and Ariana not only worked together on 2016's Hairspray Live!, but have known each other since they were child stars. "I'm so excited for Ariana. She's a genuinely dear friend of mine," Dove said. "We met when we were super young.Who did Dove Cameron lose? ›
She was 15 years old when her father died by suicide. Her sister, Claire Hosterman, was 22. "It's not like that comes out of nowhere," Dove told the outlet. "His life was always a very emotionally volatile life for him.What happened when Dove Cameron was 8? ›
And part of that is growing up, of course. Yet Cameron says that, even at its most playful, her music also bears the weight of an inordinately traumatic upbringing that included the murder of her best friend by the friend's father (when Cameron was 8) and her own father's death by suicide (when she was 15).Did Dove Cameron get a tattoo for Cameron Boyce? ›
She also has 'Celestial' and 'Body' tattooed on her wrists, a gun with a rose — which is dedicated to the late Cameron Boyce — and “Do It For Aphrodite.”
Ahead of the Descendants 3 premiere in 2019, Boyce died at the age of 20 due to complications from epilepsy. Posthumously, he headlined the thriller film Runt (2020) and was a series regular on the Amazon Prime Video supernatural thriller Paradise City (2021).Is there a tribute to Cameron Boyce at the end of Descendants 3? ›
After the sudden death of “Descendants 3” star Cameron Boyce, the movie paid tribute to the actor. During the ending credits of the Disney Channel film, a two-minute video was added which featured the 20-year-old throughout his career from this time on “Jessie” to all three “Descendants” movies.What ethnicity is Dove Cameron? ›
Cameron has stated that she is of French descent and speaks some French. She also has Russian, Slovak and Hungarian ancestry.How did Dove Cameron feel about Cameron Boyce? ›
Caption Options. Dove went on to explain that her Descendants family “found solace” in one another while grieving for Cam, whom she described as the “world's most singular person.” The 23-year-old added: “He just was everything that everybody says he is. He was from someplace else. He was truly like a cosmic happening. ...What was Cameron Boyce's last words? ›
Before Disney star Cameron Boyce's untimely passing, he imparted words of wisdom in his final interview: "Don't judge a book by its cover."Is Cameron Boyce in Descendants 4? ›
The film will be the first Descendants movie to be made without actor Cameron Boyce - who played Cruella de Vil's son Carlos in the franchise - after he passed away in 2019.
China Anne McClain and Thomas Doherty also appear in the later films. Disney have now announced that they are making Descendants 4, but it will be the first film without Cameron Boyce.Why won t Dove Cameron be in Descendants 4? ›
When asked by PopBuzz earlier this year if Dove Cameron, who played Mal, would do a Descendants reboot, she replied no. “I'm gonna say no, because I don't think it would be the same without the whole original cast. It would just be different now and also we did it. We told a full story.Why is Carlos not in the royal wedding? ›
Boyce, who played Carlos in the fantasy franchise, passed away in July 2019, at just 20-years-old, due to complications following an epileptic seizure.