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The stunning transformation of Sabrina Carpenter

Sabrina Carpenter is a talented multi-hyphenate who released three albums and almost 50 IMDb credits to her name by the time entered her early 20s. Unlike other Disney stars, Carpenter started out with strong, meatier roles before transitioning into the kind of cutesy young star the House of Mouse churns out.

When her ride on the Disney train ended, Carpenter took it as an opportunity to branch out. On the eve of becoming an adult, she realized the road ahead was loaded with fun twists and turns, and, with a newfound freedom, the budding musician realized she could return to her first love in earnest — music. Still, that doesn’t mean Carpenter turned her back on acting, as she’s continued to choose interesting and varied roles as the years have rolled by. 

The singer-actress is smart, ambitious, and ready to totally take over the entertainment world. This is the stunning transformation of Sabrina Carpenter. 

Sabrina Carpenter grew up in a creative household

Sabrina Carpenter may have always destined to be a star. Speaking to 1883 magazine, the actress and singer reminisced about how she “grew up in the middle of the woods so there was a lot of room and time to be creative and use [her] imagination.” She noted, “My parents always encouraged music and art in my household.” A 2019 Marie Claire feature noted that Carpenter was homeschooled in Pennsylvania until she was 13, when the family moved to Los Angeles presumably so the budding starlet could pursue her dreams. 

Growing up in the spotlight, as it were, means Carpenter has had a special connection with her fans as, aside from watching her mature, she also feels like she’s “watching them grow up” too. She explained to 1883, “It feels so comforting knowing we’re all finding our way together, and they get it. They understand me in so many ways that other people don’t! It’s a very rare relationship.”  

This Disney star inspired Sabrina Carpenter to pursue an entertainment career

At age 6, Sabrina Carpenter was inspired by seeing Disney star Miley Cyrus act and sing, as she shared in a 2015 interview with Cliché magazine. The young kid expected it to be all fun and games, so, when she booked her first role just a few years later, it was a massive wake-up call. “I didn’t really know what acting was at that point, and it took me a couple of years to get started. So when I… booked my first role, it was a much more serious role than I ever thought I’d be doing, but I think that’s what showed me that there was maybe a career in it,” Carpenter admitted. 

Funnily enough, Carpenter actually competed in online singing competition series MileyWorld Superstar, named after Miley Cyrus herself. Carpenter placed third, so clearly Disney was just calling her name.

Sabrina Carpenter got her start with a disturbing role

Sabrina Carpenter’s first role back in 2010 (a guest spot on Law & Order: SVU as a rape victim) was tough. Still, it made acting a reality for Carpenter. She explained to Cliché magazine in 2015, “That’s the cool thing about being a kid in the industry. You have so much vulnerability and curiosity because you don’t know what you’re doing until you’re a couple years in.”  

Speaking to Hero in 2018, Carpenter further elaborated on how her first acting job made her the performer she is today. “To be in that dark, heavy head-space at ten years old… after that I was like, ‘Oh wow, there’s so much more to this than just knee-slap jokes,’ which I think is why I appreciated acting so much, because I found that it’s like a medicine for anyone that needs it and every project is so different,” she explained. 

Sabrina Carpenter joined the Disney family

Girl Meets World, a spin-off of hit Disney show Boy Meets World, was Sabrina Carpenter’s big break in 2014. She’d previously shot a Disney pilot with Napoleon Dynamite star Jon Heder, as per Cliché magazine, but the show wasn’t picked up to series. She was a fan of Boy Meets World from the jump, as Carpenter excitedly told MTV News in 2014, noting, “I constantly find myself watching the reruns of [it].” 

Joining the Disney family seemed inevitable, but, as Carpenter explained to Hero, it wasn’t a given. “Between the ages of ten and thirteen, there aren’t a lot of lead roles for kids, especially ones that focus on them and their story. I was also very particular, if it was a Disney show, then what kind would I want to do? I think that I was lucky to come into a show that was dealing with real life issues,” she said. “Playing that, I was like, this is great, they’re really trying to address real life issues and things actually happening in so many kids’ lives.”

Sabrina Carpenter knew she was ready to move on from Disney

When Girl Meets World was cancelled in 2017, after just three seasons, Sabrina Carpenter — rather than being devastated — was kind of relieved. She was becoming an adult and was totally ready to distance herself from the Disney Channel. She explained to Marie Claire, “It was such a beautiful experience, I wouldn’t have changed it. But I was just about to turn 18, and I was really excited about moving on to the next thing.”  

As she told W magazine in 2018, she would never take her experience with Disney for granted and was grateful for everything she’d learned on the set of Girl Meets World, noting, “I was really lucky that I was on a show when I was on a show, and I always say that because, for anybody, those years are primarily made for learning and taking in your surroundings and making mistakes, because you are allowed to make mistakes without being so harshly criticized.”

Sabrina Carpenter began seriously pursuing a career in music

In spite of her successful acting career, Sabrina Carpenter always dreamed of being a pop star. In fact, she worked on music throughout her time on Girl Meets World, fitting in writing and recording sessions in between shoots on the show. In 2016, backstage at her show at Musikfest, in Bethlehem, Pa., hometown paper The Morning Call spent some time with an excited Carpenter as she was preparing to perform. Enthusing about being back playing in Pennsylvania, where her family still had a home at the time — and at a festival she’d attended as a kid no less — Carpenter shared, “It feels amazing. This is a whole different feeling playing here. This is my hometown show and we will try to make it really fun.” 

Describing her music to Marie Claire in 2019, she shared, “I want people to be able to listen to my music and feel like they’re wearing an outfit they love; it gives you that different posture, energy, attitude.”

Sabrina Carpenter released her first album

Sabrina Carpenter signed a record deal at 12, prior to breaking out as an actor on Girl Meets World, and she recorded her first two albums while appearing on the show. She also posted videos to her YouTube channel covering other artists’ songs. In 2015, Carpenter released her first album, Eyes Wide Open, explaining to Cliché magazine that the years-long process was incredibly creatively fruitful. “I learned more about myself in the past two years than I think a human should. But I think it was great because it taught me so much. There’s so much behind things that you don’t understand until you’re actually in the process of making your first album,” she said.

Her 2016 album EVOLution was released in quick succession, with Carpenter utilizing social media for promotion and building a considerable online following. “Sometimes, especially with album releases, I want to get online,” she told Marie Claire. “I want to do a live chat. I want to see what people are saying.” Makes sense as pop music was always Carpenter’s end goal, with her father even building her a purple recording studio in their basement when she was just 10 years old.

Sabrina Carpenter adopted a nonstop recording schedule

Recording two albums in quick succession while simultaneously acting on a hit show is no small feat. Speaking to Billboard in 2017 about her latest single at the time (released less than a year after EVOLution, natch), Sabrina Carpenter admitted, “I love constantly writing music, and the second I write it, obviously, I want to release it.”

Ever the realist, the singer-songwriter acknowledged how important touring is and how she balances it with her already hectic schedule. “I haven’t even looked at it as ‘I stopped acting,'” Carpenter said. “As soon as I wrapped the third season of the show, I went straight into tour, because I hadn’t gotten the chance to tour for my first album.” She went on, “You have to put in the time, and you have to put in the effort in order to have these songs be heard,” explaining, “Right now I am focusing on music, and acting will come into the picture when it’s supposed to.”

Sabrina Carpenter made a singular statement

Sabrina Carpenter’s third album, Singular: Act I, was another capital-M moment for the talented multi-hyphenate. She worked on it for close to two years. In an interview with W magazine, conducted just a couple days before the record dropped, she discussed what the album meant to her as an artist. “There were times when I was 15 or 16 and I’d be in the recording studio singing and do some vibrato, and people would be like, ‘Can you just keep it straight?'” she shared. “Then I realized later, Wait, that’s my voice. You don’t realize until later that those little things make me Sabrina and differentiate me from different people.”

Carpenter also revealed her struggles in getting producers to pay attention to who she is and to respect her as an artist in her own right. “I know myself better than anybody, and I know my fans better than anybody, and that was one thing I had to constantly fight to get people to pay attention to,” she said. The singer explained that she had to “start taking control and really capitalize on that confidence” because otherwise her work wouldn’t be able to make the art she wanted.  

Sabrina Carpenter took on an unexpected role in this hit movie

As it turned out, 2018 was a huge year for Sabrina Carpenter. Aside from her record Singular: Act I releasing, one of her highest-profile roles to date signaled her return to acting: She starred as Hailey, a racist schoolmate of lead Amandla Stenberg, in The Hate U Give. The part was a major challenge for Carpenter, but one she rose to with aplomb. Speaking to Pop Buzz the year of the movie’s release, Carpenter noted, “I don’t think anybody had seen me play a role like this.”

Likewise, she told Hero earlier in 2018 that Angie Thomas’ source novel really spoke to her. “It makes you feel the situation in such a different way,” she shared. Carpenter wanted to be a part of the movie adaptation no matter what, and she was quick to note the character she ended up playing, as ignorant and privileged as she is, exists “because there are people in the world like her,” adding, “That’s one of the reasons we really hope that people watch it.”  

Sabrina Carpenter transformed herself for a totally different role

In 2019, Sabrina Carpenter took on her first-ever indie film role in The Short History of the Long Road as a young girl living in a van who is left unmoored when her father dies suddenly. She told Pop Buzz the role appealed to her because she “had never done a project like it before.” She explained, “There was no sense of a love story, it wasn’t sexualized, it wasn’t making the girl out to be dumb. It was very much a young girl surviving and finding her way through the world. It was something that I got to transform myself for which was really cool.”

Likewise, in 2019, ahead of the movie’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, the actress described it to Nylon as “one of the realest projects” she’d taken part in. Again emphasizing the physical transformation she underwent, Carpenter noted, “I didn’t wear any makeup, I didn’t shave… I even dyed my hair.” Carpenter added that her character in the movie is “strong as hell.”

Sabrina Carpenter's second act

Her album Singular: Act I was a defining moment in Sabrina Carpenter’s career, but, with the record Act II, she went much deeper. Speaking to Refinery29 in August 2019, she admitted, “I realized my fans talk so openly with me about what they’re going through. I get super personal messages, and they’ll come to me in meet and greets and tell me what’s happening in their lives, and there I was just trying to be this glossy pop star. That’s not realistic.”

To Pop Crush the previous month, Carpenter explained, “Act I was about empowering bad-a** behavior. Bringing it into Act II, I want to show that there are multiple sides to confidence.” She continued, “We all have weak and vulnerable moments that are also strong because they show us who we are and show us who belongs in our life. Through those moments, you change.” 

She may be a superstar, but Carpenter feels a kinship with other 20-somethings, noting, “I’m in a normal place for someone my age; it’s that time in our lives where we’re just putting the puzzle pieces together — but it’s a slow process.”

Sabrina Carpenter experienced a devastating loss

Cameron Boyce, Disney alum and star of the Descendants series and Jessie, passed away suddenly in July 2019 as a result of a seizure. He was just 20 years old. Sabrina Carpenter was understandably shaken by the event, taking to Instagram to pen a heartfelt message for her friend. “You are something extraordinarily special Cam. I cannot grasp what a world without you looks like yet, nor do I want to. Nothing I can write will feel right, or pay enough tribute to how incredible you actually are, but all I know is I am so beyond lucky to have known you and eternally grateful for the times you and I shared together,” she wrote at the time. 

Carpenter later opened up to Refinery29 about how she was finding it extremely difficult to get used to the idea of Boyce being gone. Fighting tears, she admitted, “It doesn’t feel real yet,” calling Boyce “more special than anybody could comprehend.” 

Sabrina Carpenter clearly loves what she does

With so much on her plate, Sabrina Carpenter has more jobs to contend with than most young adults put together. She’s recorded music and acted in projects like the Netflix teen movie Tall Girl. And she tends to work on several projects at once, so it’s clear that Carpenter must love what she does.

She explained to The Hollywood Reporter in 2019, “I get so excited when I get to be performing in another country one day and then coming here the next to promote this film. I literally just got back from performing in Mexico — which was amazing — but I also was genuinely excited to shift my energy to something different.” She went on, “I’m not jaded yet, so I honestly think that’s what keeps me going.”  

Working on music and acting, often simultaneously, affords her room to grow as a person, too. Showing wisdom way beyond her years, Carpenter told W, “I’ve learned so much about myself. And I still have so much more to learn.”

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