Disney Channel Alum Bridgit Mendler Clarifies PhD Status While Noting Hard Choices Parents Need to Make

Disney Channel alum Bridgit Mendler, who previously revealed that she became a mom and launched a space startup while pursuing two degrees, offered another update on her life as a working parent.

By Corinne Heller Mar 07, 2024 8:09 PMTags
Watch: Disney Channel Alum Bridgit Mendler Launches Space Startup

She's not Dr. Bridgit Mendler quite yet.

Weeks after giving major updates about her personal and professional life—notably that she launched a new startup and is now a mom—the Good Luck Charlie alum is sharing an update on her journey through academia.

"Hey people. It came to my attention that something on my linkedin profile is causing confusion that I want to clarify: I am 2 months away from a JD and I don't already have a PhD," Mendler wrote on X March 7. "The PhD is something I started working towards in 2020 and I pursued it jointly with my law degree but when I moved to California last summer and decided that for family reasons we would stay on the west coast, it had to go on pause."

The 31-year-old had surprised fans Feb. 19 when she announced that she and husband Griffin Cleverly had adopted a son, now 4, whom they'd previously fostered, and that she has also launched a startup called Northwood Space, which "aims to build satellite ground stations that are designed with mass production and customer flexibility first in mind," per CNBC.

Disney Channel Hunks: Then & Now

Over the last few years, the Disney Channel alum, who last acted in the 2019 series Merry Happy Whatever, had stepped away from the spotlight to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Law School.

And as Mendler made clear, her schooling journey is not over as she plans to "still fight" for her PhD, adding, "But how it gets completed is up to the administration and my principal investigator and what they think is appropriate."

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Mendler is concentrating on maintaining a work-life balance that works best for her family.

"Ultimately, any parent or person trying to juggle hard things has experienced that sometimes you have to make hard choices," she wrote on X. "My parents have a saying: 'do everything it's a blast.' I enjoy pushing the boundary of the possible and saying yes to more things but also it is important to flex the muscle of prioritization and discernment. For myself I've found that learning when to say no or not right now can be more of a skill than saying yes."

Read on to find out what other Disney Channel stars have been up to in recent years:

Clayton Snyder, Lizzie McGuire

After getting his break as lovable heartthrob Ethan Craft on the Hilary Duff-comedy, Clayton Snyder took a break from acting to finish high school and attend Pepperdine University, where he played water polo. Though he had a role in a 2014 episode of NCIS, today he's focused on his real estate career.

But, when it comes up, he doesn't shy away from his days as a child star. "We've had plenty of clients where halfway through showing them homes they're like, 'My wife and I just found out who you are and we can't believe it!'" he previously told E! News. "But that makes me feel good because I know that's not why they're working with me. It's the best of both worlds, where they have the fun of realizing that but their actual entry point was because of the work that we do."

Adam Lamberg, Lizzie McGuire

After starring as Lizzie's BFF-turned-BF David "Gordo" Gordon on the beloved comedy, Adam Lamberg landed roles in films When Do We Eat? and Beautiful Loser. According to his LinkedIn page, he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Geography from UC Berkeley before seeking out a Master of Public Administration from Baruch College. Though, he was set to return to the Lizzie McGuire reboot, he's otherwise retired from acting.

Lalaine, Lizzie McGuire

When Lalaine's character Miranda Sanchez disappeared from the final six episodes of Lizzie McGuire (as well as the 2003 movie) due to her filming schedule on Disney Channel Original Movie You Wish!, her career sort of disappeared as well.

An attempt at a music career never really went anywhere, while a 2007 reprisal of her role in a Lizzie McGuire sequel series What's Stevie Thinking? (centered on Miranda's younger sister) never went beyond the pilot stage. That same year, she was arrested and charged with felony possession of meth. After completing court mandated rehab, the charge was expunged from her record.

Despite a cameo in 2010's Easy A, she's more easily found on Instagram than either big or small screen. She did have a film, Definition Please, release in 2020.

Jake Thomas, Lizzie McGuire

After 65 episodes as quintessential little brother Matt on Lizzie McGuire, Jake Thomas continued to work steadily, appearing on Disney's Cory In the House before guest starring on procedurals like ER, House, Criminal Minds, NCIS, and S.W.A.T. He also costarred in YouTuber Joey Graceffa's web series Storytellers in 2013 to 2014.

He officially graduated from Cal State University, Northridge in 2018 with a degree in Screenwriting with a minor in Japanese Language. Over on his Instagram, he shares a mix of his own photography and throwback pics to his child actor days.

Camilla Belle, Rip Girls

After landing her first starring role in the 2000 DCOM Rip Girls, Camilla Belle took a bit of a break from acting before starring in the 2006 remake of When a Stranger Calls and the 2008 hit 10,000 BC.

She briefly dated Joe Jonas, who she met on the set of the Jonas Brothers' video for "Lovebug," from late-2008 to mid-2009, earning herself a reference in the Taylor Swift song "Better Than Revenge."

She's since worked mostly in the indie scene, starring in films like Open Road, Diablo and the 2017 James Franco film The Mad Whale. More recently, she's made appearances on Dollface and Law & Order: Organized Crime.

Jake T. Austin, Wizards of Waverly Place

When his time as youngest Russo sibling Max on Wizards of Waverly Place came to an end in 2012, Jake T. Austin rebounded quickly with a starring role on ABC Family-turned-Freeform's The Fosters. He played Jesus Foster for the first two seasons before departing and being replaced with Noah Centineo. He followed that up with a stint on Dancing With the Stars, where he was the first contestant eliminated in season 23. He also lent his voice to 2017's The Emoji Movie and 2020's Adverse, a thriller starring Mickey Rourke. He's set to reprise his role for the upcoming Wizards sequel.

David Henrie, Wizards of Waverly Place

Meanwhile, David Henrie, who starred as eldest Russo sib Justin has had a bit of a different go of things since the show wrapped in 2012. He was the lone cast members not involved in follow-up film The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex, however he has appeared in films such as Grown Ups 2 and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.

He married former Miss Delaware Maria Cahill in April 2017 and welcomed daughter Pia Francesca Philomena Henrie into the world on March 19, 2019. Around the time he revealed he and Maria were expecting, he was arrested and charged at LAX under allegations of carrying a loaded gun in the airport. After apologizing for the unintentional act, he was sentenced to two years probation and 20 days of community labor.

Now a dad of three, he and Selena Gomez are executive producing and starring in new spin-off Disney+ series.

Jennifer Stone, Wizards of Waverly Place

After returning as Alex Russo's BFF Harper Finkle for The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex, Jennifer Stone starred in 2014 Lifetime thriller High School Possession and played the Babysitter in Nickelodeon's anthology series Deadtime Stories.

In 2013, she was diagnosed with latent autoimmune diabetes in adults, often referred to as Type 1.5 diabetes, and her film The In-Between aimed to bring more awareness to the condition.

Mia Talerico, Good Luck Charlie

Ready to feel really old? Little Mia Talerico was only 10 months old when she was cast to play the role of Charlie Duncan on Good Luck Charlie, which debuted in April 2010. Since the show wrapped in 2014, she landed a role on YouTube network Brat's kid's show Mani, playing Paige in 13 episodes. She also has a YouTube channel of her own, where she participates in "unboxing" and toy review videos. Oh, and she's only 15 years old!

Bridgit Mendler, Good Luck, Charlie

Meanwhile, Teddy Duncan, Charlie's second-oldest sibling, followed up Good Luck Charlie with a decidedly more adult role when Bridgit Mendler joined the second season of NBC comedy Undateable in 2015. She starred in two seasons of the sitcom before it was canceled. Since then, she's appeared in two episodes of Nashville and the Netflix film Father of the Year, and a Netflix series co-starring Dennis Quaid and Ashley Tisdale, Merry Happy Whatever.

The actress, whose also released two albums, studied anthropology at USC, announced in May 2018 that she started a graduate program at MIT, followed by a January 2019 announcement that she was studying at Harvard Law School. Most recently, she revealed she and engineer-husband Griffin Cleverly adopted a 4-year-old son and launched her own tech startup, Northwood Space, which aims to build ground satellite stations to help send and receive data from space.

Kiely Williams, Cheetah Girls

While her Cheetah Girls co-stars Raven-Symone and Adrienne Bailon-Houghton have kept themselves in the spotlight with acting roles and hosting gigs since the DCOM franchise aired its last installment in 2008, life for Adrienne's former 3LW group member Kiely Williams has been a little bit different.

After starring in The House Bunny the same year, Kiely earned roles in 2010's Elle: A Modern Cinderella Tale and Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming, as well as one in 2013's Holla II. After marrying Brandon "BJ" Cox in December 2016—where fellow Cheetah Girls co-star Sabrina Bryan served as bridesmaid—the mom of two briefly returned to the spotlight for a 2017 episode of Celebrity Family Feud, competing on the Girl Group team alongside Sabrina. 

Sabrina Bryan, Cheetah Girls

After Cheetah Girls: One World aired in 2008, Sabrina Bryan served as a correspondent for E! News during the eighth season of Dancing With the Stars in 2009—three seasons after she competed and was eliminated sixth. She returned to the ballroom for season 15 in 2012, competing as an All Star. Despite receiving perfect scores, she was again eliminated sixth five years to the date of her first elimination.

She performed some voice work in the Disney Channel animated series Fish Hooks, launched a web series with Kiely Williams called Dinner With Friends in 2011, and married strategic accounts manager Jordan Lundberg on October 6, 2018 after nine years of dating. Now, she is bringing back the DCOM nostalgia with her iHeartPodcast Magical Rewind with Will Friedle

Ryan Merriman, Smart House

After starring in the classic 1999 DCOM Smart House, Ryan Merriman became a staple on the network, appearing in 2001's The Luck of the Irish and 2002's A Ring of Endless Light. From there, he ventured into more adult fare, appearing in horror films like Halloween: Resurrection, The Ring Two and Final Destination 3. In 2010, he nabbed the recurring role of Ian Thomas on Pretty Little Liars, appearing in 16 episodes through 2014. He also appeared in the 2013 Jackie Robinson biopic 42 in a supporting role. His career remains active, though lately the roles are in more independent fare.

After tying the knot in 2004, he and wife Micol Duncan divorced in 2011. On January 1, 2012, he and Kristen McCullen announced their engagement. They made it official in 2014.

Kirsten Storms, Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century

From 1999 through 2004, Kirsten Storms was one of Disney Channel's favorite faces, starring in the Zenon trilogy and Johnny Tsunami, while lending her voice to Kim Possible. But during that time she had already begun her transition to a more adult career, beginning a four-year, 410 episode stint on NBC's Days of Our Lives in 2000.

After trying to break into primetime with a role on 2004's Clubhouse, a short-lived baseball drama on CBS, she returned to soaps in 2005 as Maxie Jones on ABC's General Hospital until 2023. Fun fact: She's appeared in over 1,100 episodes!

In 2011, she made a brief foray into reality TV, starring in the short-lived E! series Dirty Soap, which followed the personal lives of soap stars. In August 2013, she and former GH co-star Brandon Barash confirmed they'd secretly tied the knot in June and were expecting a child in January. Their daughter Harper Rose Barash was born on January 7, 2014. On April 6, 2016, it was revealed that she and her husband had filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. 

Erik von Detten, Brink!

In 1998, Erik von Detten stole hearts everywhere as the star of one of the earliest DCOMs, Brink! After that, he popped up everywhere, doing voice work on Recess, playing John Bryant in The Princess Diaries, and starring on spooky Disney Channel series So Weird from 1999 to 2001. He dipped a toe in early reality TV waters, competing on the first celebrity edition of ABC's The Mole, while landing roles in short-lived series like Dinotopia and Complete Savages. His most recent work was in Toy Story 3, returning as Sid, a role he'd originated in the Pixar franchise's 1995 start.

He currently works in sales at a finance company and shares two kids with wife Angela

Raviv Ullman, Phil of the Future

After playing the titular Phil of the Future from 2004 to 2006 credited as Ricky Ullman, Raviv began transitioning to more adult fair with appearances in Big Love and House (with his 2006 episode being the first credited with his real name), followed by a series regular role on Lifetime comedy Rita Rocks from 2008 to 2009. His more recent credits include a 2015 episode of Broad City and a recurring role on web series Strangers in 2018. From 2012 to 2018, he appeared in a handful of stage shows and, from 2013 to 2014, he was the drummer in Zoe Kravitz' band Lolawolf. 

In 2022, he told E! News he had just wrapped working in San Francisco, where he was directing an opera at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. 

Kimberly J. Brown, Halloweentown

In 1999, Kimberly J. Brown shot to stardom starring as young witch Marnie Piper in the classic DCOM Halloweentown opposite the legendary Debbie Reynolds. The film was such a hit that it spawned three sequels, however the network made the bizarre decision to recast her in 2006's Return to Halloweentown, replacing her with Sara Paxton. Not surprisingly, the fourth film is perhaps the least-liked entry in the franchise.

Her acting work outside the franchise has been particularly limited, with a role in the 2005 film Be Cool and a handful of episodes on AMC's short-lived Low Winter Sun in 2013 among the most notable. She also appeared in 15 episodes of Genreal Hospital in 2021 and nearly 50 episodes of Guiding Light.

After graduating college with a degree in business, she launched an Etsy shop CraftilyCreative, where she sells a variety of items, including Halloweentown-themed merch. And in 2016, she and coauthor Diane Yslas published a Halloween-themed children's book, Poppin's Pumkpin Patch Parade.

Disney fans were especially delighted to her fall in love with Halloweentown costar Daniel Kountz, who proposed in 2022.

Mitchel Musso, Hannah Montana

From 2006 to 2011, Mitchel Musso starred as Oliver Oken, one of Miley Stewart's (Miley Cyrus) BFFs on Hannah Montana. As the show was winding down, he had a promising career going for him on Disney, landing a lead role on new series Pair of Kings, as well as a gig hosting PrankStars. But when he was pulled over on October 17, 2011 and charged with a DUI suspicion while underage—he was 20 at the time—he was written out of Pair of Kings and his prank show was canceled. After that, he worked on on indie films and voice work in Milo Murphy's Law, a Disney XD series.

In 2023, he was arrested for public intoxication and theft in Texas.

Jason Earles, Hannah Montana

Despite playing Miley's older brother Jackson Stewart on Hannah Montana (he was written as a 10th grader in season one), Jason Earles was actually 29 when the show began airing and 34 by the time it ended. Immediately afterwards, he began starring on Disney XD comedy Kickin' It, where he spent four seasons playing the more age-appropriate Rudy until the show wrapped in March 2015. Since 2018, he's starred on Hotel Du Loone, a Brat series available on YouTube. He also joined the third season of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. In August 2017, he married girlfriend Katie Drysen.

Kyle Massey, That's So Raven

After starring as younger brother Cory Baxter on That's So Raven from 2003 to 2007, Kyle Massey earned a spinoff of his own, Cory in the House, that aired on the network until 2008.

Following that, he recurred on The Electric Company, guest starred on Gotham and Being Mary Jane, provided voice work for Fish Hooks, Mighty Magiswords, and Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and competed on season 11 of Dancing With the Stars and in a 2017 episode of Celebrity Family Feud against Jennie Garth.

In 2018, several outlets reported that he would be joining the cast of The Hills: New Beginnings, but the rumors proved to be unfounded, with Kyle himself calling them "fake news."

In 2021, he was charged with a felony for immoral communication with a teenage girl. "It is unfortunate that Kyle Massey had to learn through the media yesterday that the 2019 allegations have resurfaced in the State of Washington a year after their dismissal," the actor's lawyer said in a statement to E! at the time. "Massey claims that the allegations then and now are extortive."

The attorney added, "Massey intends to aggressively defend these accusations again and will seek civil damages from those that refuse to hear the facts. We plan to seek an early dismissal—finally putting these extortive attempts to rest."

A.J. Trauth, Even Stevens

After playing Twitty on Even Stevens from 2000 to 2003, and lending his voice to the role of Josh Mankey in a handful of Kim Possible episodes, A.J. Trauth made the guest star rounds, popping up in episodes of 7th Heaven, House, Ghost Whisperer, CSI, and Bones, among others, through 2012.

Since then, he's appeared in a handful of independent films while providing voice work for video games Wolfenstein: The New Order and its 2017 sequel, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. After getting engaged to actress Leah Pipes, his girlfriend of almost three years, in February 2014, the couple tied the knot that December. They ultimately split by 2019.

Christy Carlson Romano, Even Stevens

After starring as brainy Ren Stevens for three years on Even Stevens, bringing the titular Kim Possible to life, and starring opposite Hilary Duff in the 2002 DCOM Cadet Kelly, Christy Carlson Romano took to Broadway for a 31-week run in Disney's Beauty and the Beast in 2004, playing Belle, before returning to the famed theater district in 2008, joining the company of Avenue Q.

She wrote a novel, Grace's Turn, in 2007, directed a feature film, Christmas All Over Again, in 2016, earned a degree in Film Studies from Barnard College, and married writer-producer Brendan Rooney on December 31, 2013. The couple have two daughters, the youngest born in February 2019.

Christy returned to the network that made her a household name in 2019 with a role in the live-action Kim Possible film, playing pop star Poppy Blu. In May 2019, she also opened up about the difficulties she faced coming out of her years as the network's star in a powerful essay for Teen Vogue. "I have never been perfect or pulled together as my reputation or the success of my young adulthood might suggest," she confessed. "During a period of time in my life, I grappled with depression, drinking, and more, desperate to find fixes for how I felt."

Brandon Baker, Johnny Tsunami

In 1999, Brandon Baker made his DCOM debut as the iconic titular star of Johnny Tsunami. After the film, he worked sporadically, popping up in a handful of Even Stevens episodes with roles in more adult-minded shows like Boston Public and The Unit while he pursued a degree at UC Santa Barbara.

In 2007, he returned to the role that made him a Disney star in the sequel, Johnny Kapahala: Back on Board. Since then, he's appeared in two independent films, The Formula, co-starring Family Matters' icon Reginald VelJohnson, and Up on the Wooftop, which co-starred Saved By the Bell's Dennis Haskins as Santa Claus. Naturally.

Alana Austin, Motocrossed

In 2001, Alana Austin starred in the DCOM Motocrossed as Andrea "Andi" Carson, the teenage girl barred from competing in motocross despite her love for it and who secretly begins racing as her twin brother after he injures himself before a big race.

Despite making a handful of guest star spots on shows like 7th Heaven, Boston Public and Cold Case following the film's release, she retired from acting altogether in 2006. She reportedly studied medicine at USC, but when asked by a fan on Twitter in April 2016 what she was up to, she replied "Pursuing writing" before noting that acting was always "high up" in her heart.

Kay Panabaker, Phil of the Future

After landing a recurring role in Phil of the Future, Kay Panabaker became something of a staple on Disney Channel, starring in DCOMs Life is Ruff and Read It and Weep, alongside older sister Danielle Panabaker, and competing in the first Disney Channel Games in 2006. She made a transition to more adult fare in the 2009 remake of Fame and the 2011 ABC drama No Ordinary Family, but by 2012 had retired from acting. She went on to study zoology at UCLA and, in 2016, was working as an animal keeper at, of all places, Disney's Animal Kingdom.

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