Demi Lovato opens up about her eating disorder and rehab stay during Disney Channel show reunion
Demi Lovato shared details about rehab and her struggles with an eating disorder when she joined cast members from her former hit Disney Channel series Sonny with a Chance for a virtual reunion. Stars from the show, which aired from 2009 to 2011, as well as those from its spinoff So Random!, pre-recorded the conversation which went live Saturday night.
Lovato was joined in the chat by Tiffany Thornton, Allisyn Ashley Arm, Doug Brochu, Sterling Knight, Audrey Whitby, Matthew Scott Montgomery, Shayne Topp and Damien Haas.
From the get-go the conversation was a candid one, with Arm asking what everyone had been up to in the near-decade since the end of the show, and Lovato replying, to laughs from her former co-stars, "I went to rehab. Several times!"
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Lovato left Sonny with a Chance at 18 after the show’s second season, when she entered treatment for “physical and emotional stress.”
“I don’t think going back to Sonny would be healthy for my recovery,” Lovato told People at the time. “Being in front of a camera would make me nervous.”
During Saturday night’s conversation Lovato gave real credit to Thornton, who starred in both Sonny with a Chance and So Random! as Tawni Hart. "When I went away to treatment for the first time, I remember you were my biggest inspiration coming out of it," Lovato told Thornton during the group conversation.
“You dealt with all of those pressures of being a woman on TV,” Lovato, who recently guest starred on the Will and Grace reboot, added. “I looked at that as, ‘I wish I had that so bad.’ Yes, I probably was happier in my head with whatever I looked like at the time, but I'm so much happier now with the mentality that you have, I look back and I'm like, ‘Man, it's a shame we wasted any energy thinking about what we wore on set.’ I went to Will and Grace this time and I literally spent 10 minutes in the wardrobe room. My fittings used to be an hour. But now I'm just like, ‘It doesn't matter. What I'm wearing doesn't matter to people.’”
Lovato also shared what her mindset was like back when she was on the series, “I was so miserable and angry because I felt like I was being overworked, which I was,” she said. “I felt bad because when I went back to Will and Grace, I was like ‘Gosh, I miss Sonny so much and I would do anything to recreate the set because I miss that environment, the fun times that we would have.’ It was just so great. It definitely makes me question what I want to do in the future, more acting, more singing, or what."
During the video reunion, Thornton also recalled how Lovato’s dressing room during the series was always extremely hot.
Read more: Demi Lovato: 'It could be so much fun to share children with a woman'
“I had an eating disorder and I was underweight and freezing,” Lovato explained. “I would have people over for meetings on my lunch breaks, because that's how much I worked,” she added. “People would come in, I'd be covered in a blanket and people would say, ‘Why is it 80 degrees in here?’ I was like, ‘Because I'm freezing.’ They would be like, ‘Oh my God, what's wrong with you?’”
Even though Lovato played Sonny on Sonny with a Chance the show went on after she left. “When I left, you don't expect the show to go on without you, but it did,” she said. “I couldn't have been happier for all of you, and I just wasn't in a period of time where I was ready to be on camera again. I could not go back to that environment and there were other things that factored into it.”
As for any advice Lovato would pass on to future child actors following in her footsteps she shared, “Always speak up for your needs.”