Celebrity Disney Channel and 'Step Up' Star Alyson Stoner Details 'Traumatizing Experiences' of Hollywood Alyson Stoner — who starred in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Step Up, and the Missy Elliott "Work It" video — recently opened up the dark times of her life in Hollywood By Dave Quinn Dave Quinn Instagram Twitter Dave Quinn is an Editor for PEOPLE, working across a number of verticals including the Entertainment, Lifestyle and News teams. People Editorial Guidelines Published on September 1, 2017 02:51 PM Share Tweet Pin Email From her standout dance in Missy Elliott‘s “Work It” video to parts in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Cheaper By the Dozen and the Step Up franchise, Alyson Stoner had a pretty busy childhood — nabbing roles in high-profile projects since the early 2000s. But nearly 50 films and animated voiceover roles later, the former Disney channel star admits fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. “Being famous as a kid is weird and unhealthy,” Stoner, now 24, revealed in a candid YouTube video posted in August — which she said she made in an effort to prevent fans from asking “the same questions” while also showing them “where [she’s] heading and what [she’s] creating now.” “I was a pack mule growing up,” she said. “Living in that little box? Being part of that little machine? It takes a huge toll on you.” “The competition, narcissism, perfectionism, the pressure, schedule, the traumatizing experiences that we can never talk about, because we’re either under contract or we’ll get shot or other things will happen to us if we open our mouths,” she said, adding: “No, I’m not in the Illuminati.” While Stoner didn’t give specific examples, she said years and years of living “a lot of different lives in a short amount of years” had left her “sick and tired of telling other people’s stories.” “I’m done waiting, hoping that the politics are going to change,” said Stoner, who also has a successful singing and touring career. “I want to be able to show you who I am, not giving a damn about whether it matches what you wanted me to be [while] building a true community of people where we can talk about s— that matters,” she said. The Los Angeles-based actress said the choice leaves her looking at life “with a whole new lens.” “In my generation we sort of let the art speak for itself. We don’t disclose our personal private lives. But I’m embracing it,” Stoner said of her YouTube page. “I see a lot of really great potential from having this kind of connection.” “I have some really cool bucket list projects and dreams that are coming true right now,” she added. “[I’m] finally tapping into a life that I want to live.” Everett FROM PEN: Milo Ventimiglia Reveals the Three Times He Almost Quit Acting Stoner was just 14 when she graduated high school and took a couple of years off before trying her hand at college, even studying neuroscience on the side. In addition to her work on the stage and screen, the brunette beauty also focused on humanitarian work — traveling the world teaching sustainability and ways for families to get out of poverty.