At just 14 years old, Bella Thorne — the fiery-haired actress who stars as CeCe Jones on Disney Channel’s “Shake it Up!” — has already had the career of a seasoned show biz pro. The Florida native got an early start in show business, booking her first modeling gigs at just four years old and appearing in dozens of commercials through her childhood before working her way up to TV stardom. And it’s only up from here — the Disney favorite has captivated a loyal fan base (“Bellarinas,” as they call themselves) who will follow the star wherever her burgeoning career takes her. Recently, Bella stopped by the Huffington Post offices in New York to dish on her Cuban roots, why she loves boyfriend Tristan Klier, and how she stays true to herself.
You and Zendaya play best friends on the Disney show “Shake it Up!” Are you best friends in real life? What kind of stuff do you do on set?
Yeah, but we’re more like brothers… because when you say, “You’re like sisters” it could mean you have those catty fights and we don’t have any of that. We like to wrestle and just like to mess around. And we do funny things onset. There was this time where I was looking back at Zendaya and Adam [Irigoyen]… and we were laughing and I turned and hit the wall. I walked straight, flat into a wall! They were laughing so hard!
You and your BF Tristan Klier are so cute. What is the most romantic thing he has ever done for you?
Well, there is stuff that he does daily. I would be like “Tristan! What is taking you so long?” and he would show up with flowers that he picked out of the gardens around Notre Dame [High School]. Or one time, I had to get my hair done, so he walked from his school to my house so that he could see me. He was hanging out with my brother playing video games. And I came back and we went to dinner. Then I came back that night to take a shower… and there’s a message on my mirror in paint that says, “I love you and I’m glad I got to see you today.”
You are very open about having dyslexia. How are you dealing with it?
I’ve overcome it in a sense of reading. I read a grade above, and I can read 500-page books in two days; literally I have done that. I’m really happy that I have accomplished that. But dyslexia can appear in lots of things. It can appear in left and right… and that can get hard when you’re dancing, because in a [scene] they’ll go “Right!” and I’ll think left; but I kind of got that trained now. Now it’s just numbers — I can’t memorize house addresses. I will memorize them but they don’t stick.
So you learn your lines by having your mom read them to you?
Well, not anymore, because we have “table read” where we all sit down at a table and read scripts… Sometimes when I’m in the middle of table read I will [say], “Can somebody tell me this word?” and it’s a word that I’ve learned before, but at that minute [the letters] switched. So dyslexia can still be a little difficult, but… you just have to look at it as a good thing. I’ve worked so much harder at everything that I want to accomplish in life, and it just feels a lot better when I get there.
Do you think you’re a role model to your fans?
Not really. I know that some girls look up to me for certain things, like dyslexia, and that way I know that they like me for me, so it adds no pressure. I don’t have to try to be perfect because I know that my fans like me for who I am. They like me because I am weird, and kind of funky, but still really calm. But I think that I never really have to worry about any of that stuff… because [my fans] like me for who I am.
You turn 15 in October. What do you think will be the best thing about being 15?
I think for Latin people it’s getting your quinceañera. For me that’s really special because my dad used to call me his “Cuban princess.” This is because when my siblings were born they were born very Anglo… My sister came out as a redhead and didn’t look Latin at all. And then I came out with black hair and my bone structure is very Latin… if we were to take away my red hair and my pale skin you would see that I am mixed with something. My dad would call me his Cuban princess because I had really dark olive skin because I was always in the sun; but I don’t really go in the sun anymore, so that is why I am so white.
Where did you learn to dance so well?
I learned at Millenium [Dance Studio]. There were six months between the pilot and the series, and in those six months I took three dance classes every night — because I knew that when I was dancing with Zendaya and those amazing dancers that I just felt… like I just didn’t belong there. But that is the show that I’m on, so I learned how to dance and I love it.
Do you have any advice to kids aspiring to be a dancer and singer like you?
Anything you do, it has to be a number one. I personally don’t think you can love two things like dancing and singing the same exact amount. There is always one that you like more, and that is most likely the one that you’re better at, because you try harder in it. For me, I always try my hardest at acting because I know that acting will be my number-one love. You have to ask yourself, “Is this my number one?” You do have to deal with rejection… because it’s a really big thing in acting … so you have to make sure you have that passion for it that will keep you going.
What are three things that no one knows about you?
I am obsessed with spicy food — I eat spicy on everything. One time when I was nine I ate eight cups of jalapenos straight. I am obsessed with flossing. Dental hygiene is so big for me. I floss for like one to two hours. I am obsessed with cats. I love cats. When I’m older I want to build a cat shelter in my back yard… where people can volunteer to groom them and play with them.
We all have someone to keep us grounded. Who makes sure that you stay true to who you really are?
Me. I know who I will always be. I have stuck to that person. I have made some changes here and there in personality and attitude just from being around different people, but I know that I’m still my dad’s Cuban princess.