After establishing a career in acting at the tender age of 9 years old, Cameron Boyce is an actor who has taken the United States by storm. Boyce, who is now 19, has just finished starring in the Disney production Descendants 3, which is primed to up the anti for its 3rd rousing instalment. But Boyce’s talents do not stop at acting. With both black and Jewish roots, Cameron is also a proud advocate for racial inclusivity and, in 2017, raised over $27,000 for the Thirst Project, a project striving to end the global water crisis.
A version of this exclusive interview first appeared in the pages of the 15th issue of ODDA Magazine.
For a 19-year-old, you have a world of experience when it comes to roles on film and television. How old where you when you first started?
I was around seven years old when I got into acting.
What was so appealing about acting at that age?
At that age, it was less about the acting and more about the performing. I was a dancer when I was even younger than that, so my whole life I’ve always been “on stage.”
We often hear about the toll an acting career can have on a young person, but you seem to have coped incredibly well. How did you balance work and growing up like anybody else?
I think what it ultimately comes down to is who you have around you. After that, it is who you choose to become close with and who you choose to have a professional relationship with. I have always been of the mindset that acting couldn’t and wouldn’t change who I am as a person. My personality will never falter. I’ll never become someone I’m not. It’s kind of simple when I put it in those terms and the reality is there’s a lot more nuance to it, but that’s always been at the core of my perspective on this lifestyle.
Do you rely on your family for support?
100%. They’ve had to adjust to my career as much as I have. And they are incredible at knowing what I need and loving me through anything. They’ll always have my back and they’ll always support me no matter what.
I recently got sick on the movie I’m currently shooting, and my dad dropped all of his responsibilities and flew from LA to take care of me for a week. That’s just who they are.
My 16-year-old sister is also a huge part of it and I’m not even sure she knows how much she impacts me.
You are currently filming the third instalment of Descendants. Were you aware of how popular the film series would be?
I knew it would be big based on how successful the Kenny Ortega-Disney Channel pairing has been. I honestly don’t know that I’ll ever quite understand the magnitude of the franchise because I’m a part of it.
Looking from the inside out can blur your vision.
Between your film work and Disney series you have earned a loyal following. How does it feel having so many fans over the world?
That’s another thing I won’t ever quite grasp. People tell me I am their favorite actor and my first thought is you must not watch a lot of film… but I really am some people’s favorite actor!
When you look up to so many people it’s hard to accept that others put you at the top of their pedestal.
Do you prefer to work on films or TV shows?
At this point film. There’s something very attractive about diving deep into a character for a month or two and having to say goodbye.
Are there any actors or films that inspired you to start a career on screen?
My inspiration comes from a lot of different places. Judd Nelson’s performance in The Breakfast Club, Donald O’Connor in Singin’ in the Rain, and Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction are just a few.
If there were any other job for you than acting, what would it be?
I would be a choreographer.
How has coming from a Jewish and black background affected your approach to life in the spotlight?
My life in the spotlight stems from my life in general. Growing up as a mixed kid in LA wasn’t abnormal.
However, learning about where I came from and the suffering my ancestors went through on both sides has molded not just me, but my entire family to be grateful, loving, and educated.
Your grandma is a particularly influential figure in American history, is that where your will to speak out for others and support charitable causes came from?
She’s a big part of it, yes. She, like a lot of people in my family, encourages me to use my voice in a positive way. What she went through and who she is now because of her experience is an inspiration to everyone who knows her.
You use your platform to give a voice to those without. What do you hope to achieve in the coming years from your philanthropic work?
I might have one that reaches more people, but I believe no one is without a voice. Especially when we can come together and scream at the top of our lungs in unison.
I want to help make the world a better place just like a lot of amazing youth that have spoken up recently and demanded change.
The future leaders are fierce and unafraid.
Can you tell me a bit about your work with the Thirst Project?
Thirst Project is a non-profit organization that raises money through donations to build wells in third world countries for people who, without them, wouldn’t have safe, clean drinking water.
I teamed up with them on a couple of projects, spearheading one of their initiatives and, later, doing my own campaign to raise even more funds. Together we’ve raised thousands of dollars giving thousands of people water for life.
My campaign alone granted over 1,000 people in Swaziland clean water for life.
How do you picture your impact on the current generation through schemes and projects like this?
It’s a domino effect.
Not only does the charity help those in need, but I’m also hoping that by leading by example, I’ll inspire more kids to get involved and be passionate about causes that speak to them.
While your fame helps you in your charitable work, have you ever felt like being well known is a disadvantage for you in your day-to-day life?
Every celebrity has their own relationship with fame. Mine has changed and evolved over the years. It went from debilitating to empowering as I grew to understand it.
What I used to find challenging is now stuff I don’t pay much attention to. Just like anyone else, an actor who is known can still choose to look at things in a positive way and create their own happiness, even if the lifestyle isn’t what you’d call normal.
If you were in total control of your own movie, who would be your dream cast mates and director?
All of my friends with Quentin Tarantino as the director.
After the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement in recent months, have you seen a positive change in the way your industry operates? Or is there still a long way to go?
There will always be a long way to go because not only is the Time’s Up movement exposing people in the industry, but also people in the real world. It’s empowering victims to come forward and receive the love and support that they deserve. This movement is here to stay and will only get stronger. It’s imperative to the safety of entertainment industry members and non-entertainment industry members that it does.
You recently launched a jewelry line. What first motivated you to move in to design?
I’ve always been into fashion. I find that most artists are. It gives you an opportunity to bring something to life that only you have envisioned. I wanted to combine my love of creating with my love of philanthropy, and I felt like a bracelet line where proceeds go to a cause of my choosing was the way to do that. But taking pencil to paper with an idea is just the half of it. I’m learning a lot more about business as well.
Do you see the line expanding in to fashion?
It’s something that we will explore for sure. I’m pretty ambitious in all aspects of life, so this shouldn’t be much different. We’ll see where it goes and which direction it pulls me.
You seem so busy with so much going on in your life. What do you do with any free time you have?
Downtime is actually pretty important to me. It helps you gear up for taxing days and long nights. A lot of it I spend resting and recharging, but when I feel inspired I’m taking photos, listening to music, and following my Lakers who just got LeBron! However, the most important thing to me is spending time with blood and chosen family.
With actor, dancer, singer, philanthropist and designer all under your belt before 20, is there anything you would like to add to that list in the future?
In an ideal world, I would also have writer, producer, owner, choreographer and director under my belt… Anything you can see yourself doing I believe you should explore. And, when you surround yourself with people who push you to fulfil that dream, it makes you all the more inspired.
I watch other people create and I think to myself I want to be like them. They seem free.
When can fans expect to see you on screen next after Descendants 3?
I’m working on a film currently that could not be more different than Descendants. All I will say is it’s a story of neglectful adults that turn a blind eye to the children they are responsible for.
The kids that are hopeful enough to escape their hometown are the ones who end up having to watch their dream start to slip from their grasp.
I couldn’t be more excited to finally make the change up I’ve been craving for a long time.