In a new interview with ET’s Katie Krause, the songstress and former Disney star detailed how spending her teenage years in the limelight affected her mental health, which continues to be tested today in situations like the current lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
As she releases her new single, “Remember Me,” Cameron recalled how she “was depressed long before I was famous,” but increasingly kept certain sides of her personality to herself as she hit the spotlight. She said being sensitive also made many of her younger experiences feel “invasive.”
“I’m so open and so fragile that I feel like the world just permeates me all the time and that results in anxiety and depression and confusion and loneliness and ups and downs of being like, ‘Wow, I feel so safe -- I want to eat it all, I want to meet you all, I want to love.’ And, then I’m like, ‘I need to shave my head and move away and never talk to anyone ever again,’” she explains.
“I have to regulate myself and pay attention to that, so I developed a clean image that felt protective,” the former Liv and Maddie star adds. “It felt like, if I’m going to have no one be mad at me and never get in trouble or step on anyone’s toes, I’m going to be what I know to be safe. I feel like when you’re 16 and in high school, you’re probably doing that. You’re like, ‘I want to get good grades, I don’t want my parents to be mad at me, I want to dress so I don’t get trouble in school.’ I was a teenager.”
Cameron indicated that not showing her true colors affected her happiness as she navigated the “incredibly toxic” celebrity culture, in which stars “feel the pressure to be perfect.” She also said that societal pressure on woman impacted the image she was portraying to fans.
“I think this culture is so insidious for what is allowed for a woman, especially a developing young woman,” she says. “I wanted my boyfriend to think I was, like, good and beautiful and pure and that I wasn’t a bad girl, because bad girls get punished. As I’ve gotten older, I’m like, f**k it. It took me a long time to stop feeling so bad about myself [and like] I needed the approval of everybody, and to start being like, ‘I only care about my own approval.’"
Now, at 24, Cameron admits she still faces struggles and sometimes cries “so much I make myself sick.” Currently, being cooped up due to the coronavirus pandemic has been a hurdle to her happiness. The star is self-isolating with her actor boyfriend, Thomas Doherty, and her two cats.
“Today I feel fine,” she says. “It’s a day-to-day experience. Two days ago, I had a massive breakdown. I was like, ‘Humans aren’t meant to be cooped up!’ This is the ultimate experience [where] you can’t distract yourself from yourself, so that affects everybody differently. For me, it’s really up and down.”
“Some days I’m completely normal, feeling great, feeling creative and grateful for this introspective opportunity and the next day I’m losing my mind,” adds Cameron, who has been talking to her therapist during lockdown. “It’s a very interesting, trying time.”
Cameron has her music to express herself through, and her latest track, “Remember Me,” came right from the depths of her teenage journal. The song was penned nearly two years ago and features vocals from BIA.
“I’ve always written in my journal, like, years and years and years ago,” she says. “I was like, no matter who I find, no matter who I’m with, whether it’s incredible or the worst, I will always have the knowledge that I am my own partner. I am my own caregiver, my own parent, my own other half. I complete me."
“That is why every love song, while it’s about the relationship, it’s also about me,” she continues. “You choose your partner because sometimes they are a reflection of you or what you need or want or love to admire. It’s all to do with you. It’s also to do with them, because that’s what love is -- falling in love with this incredible separate other. It’s a cosmic experience to fall in love.”
While The Descendants star was initially wary of having another artist featured on the track, she says BIA’s tone and energy stood out and elevated the single. Cameron had a music video all planned for the song, which sadly wasn’t able to be filmed due to lockdown, however she has just released a lyric video based on her idea, which centers on a “nostalgic, overly iconicized, femme fatale, villainous beauty theme.”
While Cameron releases her new song, Doherty is meanwhile preparing for a new role in the highly anticipated Gossip Girl reboot.
“[I’m] so excited, so proud -- I'm a massive fan of the original series,” she says. “It’s going to be so exciting. I can't wait to be in New York -- it’s our favorite city.”