The Tangled Web of the Disney Class of 2008: How Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato & the Jonas Brothers Are Forever Linked

E! News/July 28, 2016

If you looked at the current entertainment headlines, you’d think it was 2008 again.

Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas run a record label together. Selena Gomez and Joe Jonas‘ band, DNCE, are on tour this summer—as are Demi and Nick. Plus, all four of them have singles steadily holding high spots on the music charts. However, it’s really eight years later and as much as it feels like time has stopped, the former tween stars couldn’t be more grown up.

After almost a decade, it’s evident Disney is once again responsible for scouting out another group of talented hopefuls turned megawatt stars. “There’s a camaraderie there, a sort of unspoken brother and sisterhood. If you want to talk about that graduating class of 2008, I’m really proud—it’s a really good group,” Nick told Entertainment Weekly in May. “Regardless of some of the history between us in different ways, there’s a general strength and empowerment that we all feel, still being in the mix and being in a good spot. It’s a cool thing.”

The now 23-year-old is certainly right about one thing—they have a whole lot of history together. As alumni of the Disney empire, there was a time years ago when they were all rehearsing the same kind of song and dance. Miley Cyrus was the bright-eyed star of Hannah Montana. Selena Gomez was a former Barney kid in the lead role of Wizards of Waverly Place. Nick and Joe made up two thirds of the wildly popular family band, the Jonas Brothers—lighting tween hearts on fire all while wearing securely fastened purity rings. Rounding out the class was Demi, introduced to the Disney world as Joe’s romantic interest in the Camp Rock franchise and later promoted to the leading lady of Disney’s sitcom, Sonny with a Chance. 

 

Despite their individual projects, they were all triple threats ready to tap into any talent at any time. As their popularity grew, Disney paired them up on new ventures to feed off of each other’s star power. Gomez popped up in a few episodes of Hannah Montana. Lovato was brought back for the sequel to Camp Rock. Selena and Demi were paired for the Disney Channel original movie, Princess Protection Program. When the Jonas Brothers sang about “Burnin’ Up” over a girl, that girl in the music video was Selena.

As their resumés began to blend, so did their romantic lives, particularly for the youngest Jonas Brother, who was burnin’ up for Gomez in real life—or was it Cyrus? “Miley and then back with Selena and then back with Miley,” Lovato told James Corden of Nick’s teenage dating timeline.

While the timing of his conquests is still a bit muddy to this day, it is true that Nick’s personal life mimicked his art for a time. First, he and Miley fell into the throes of puppy love. “The first person I kissed was Miley Cyrus, and I kissed her outside of California Pizza Kitchen in Hollywood — very romantic,” he told BBC’s Radio 1. “I’d just had a pizza that had onions all over it. I’m sure that my breath smelled terrible.”

“We became boyfriend and girlfriend the day we met,” Cyrus told Seventeen in 2008 of their undercover dating. “For two years he was basically my 24/7.” However, by the time of her post-breakup interview, Nick had already taken up a brief teenage tryst with Gomez. “We were babies!” Selena told Capital FM in 2015. “It was very sweet. He’s lovely. I do have a love for him for sure.”

However, the love triangle was rumored to cause a rift between the Disney princesses. Looking back, Selena insisted it was just the result of existing pop culture archetypes.

“We never feuded. We both liked the same guy when we were 16. It was just a Hilary DuffLindsay Lohan thing: ‘Oh, my God, we like the same boy!'” she told W“We are now completely settled in our own lives.”

The same can’t be said for Demi and Miley, who frequently fought. “Miley Cyrus and I are strong headed. When we fight it’s brutal and we’re like, ‘We’re never going to be friends again! Then two days later, were like, ‘I love you and I miss you!” Demi told Seventeen in 2012. Ultimately, the former gal pals grew up and apart. “It’s life, and people change,” Demi told a fan caller during a radio interview on The TJ Show two years later. “I don’t have anything in common with her anymore. I wish her the best.”

For Lovato and her on-screen beau Joe, it was only a matter of time before Disney’s favorite couple came to fruition. “He’s my best friend and he’s incredible,” she told Billy Bush in 2010. “He’s a complete gentleman; he takes me to the most amazing places…He’s perfect!”

Unfortunately, perfection is fleeting and the young couple split that same year. Fortunately, there were no hard feelings—the duo grew up to become the best of pals. “She’s family,” Jonas told E!’s Marc Malkin this year. “I don’t think of her as an ex. We’re really good friends. We’ve gone through so much together and we’re really close now.”

Proof of that enduring friendship arrived Wednesday night when Joe surprised Demi while she was busy performing a concert with his brother in Washington, D.C. The duo reprised “Gotta Find You” from their kid flick all those years ago. Fans went crazy, proving that the chemistry that originally catapulted them to stardom still has not fizzled out.

The same can be said for most of the alumni. When a photo surfaced of Selena and Nick whispering into each other’s ears at an MTV Video Music Award after-party last year, the Internet lost its mind. When Demi was honored with the 2016 GLAAD Vanguard Award, Nick was at the podium to present it to her.

Whether it’s a collaboration in the studio, on stage or screen, it seems anything this crew teams up on is destined for success. Like Nick said, that unspoken brother and sisterhood is still—for the most part—alive and well long after their days at “Disney High.”

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