On July 6, 2019, Disney Channel star Cameron Boyce passed away in his sleep at the age of 20. The cause of death was a seizure as a result of an ongoing medical condition. After his death, his family said in a statement, “The world is now undoubtedly without one of its brightest lights, but his spirit will live on through the kindness and compassion of all who knew and loved him.”
But prior to his death, he was interviewed for a documentary from former child star Alex Winter about growing up in Hollywood. That documentary is called Showbiz Kids and it premiered Tuesday, July 14 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO. In the documentary, Boyce speaks candidly about his career, which takes on a melancholy feeling knowing that he would die so young. But it was also a lovely memorial of the young star. Here is what Boyce’s appearance in the documentary revealed about his life and career.
Boyce Got His Start as a Dancer
Before being cast on Jessie, Boyce found his footing in dance. He revealed that his talent in dance was really what convinced his parents to let him go into the entertainment industry.
“I was a dancer originally. At six years old, I was taking dance classes. We had a recital at the end of the year and that recital was sort of the thing that led my parents to go, ‘Oh, he might be able to do that. He seems like he’s having fun.’ I was the only kid who seemed interested at all — everyone else was picking their nose and digging in their butts,” said Boyce.
He also said that when he got started, his parents “knew nothing about the business.” But they were always very supportive of his dreams.
“There were plenty of times where you go on like a thousand auditions and you book none of them. … People have to sacrifice for you, which I didn’t understand as a kid but sort of looking back on it now, I go — wow!”
“My dad quit his job. My mom was letting me skip my last period in school so I could go to some stupid audition that I didn’t book. And when it really hit home for me was when my sister would come home from school and talk about how her classmates would just naturally associate her with me and that’s what she was. I hated that and that killed me,” said Boyce. “I didn’t want her to feel like she was in my shadow or that she was lesser than. So there are definitely things you think back on and you’re like — that changed the entire fabric of my family and the way that we work as a unit.”
Boyce Credited the People Around Him for Not Letting Turn Into a Monster Child Star
Boyce was just 11 years old when he booked Jessie and was on it for the next four years. He always strived to be the kid who wasn’t causing trouble.
“I wanted to do it right, I wanted to do it well, and I wanted people to be impressed with me,” said Boyce, adding that the key was that no one was scared of him.
“No one was scared of me. That’s the key, right? If a child actor comes on a set and they’re 13 years old and the crew is scared of them? No, f*ck that sh*t. [The people around me] were like, ‘Listen — don’t do that, do do that. Respect these people and ask questions and be nice. That’s what you do.’ and because of that I think I was so much better off. So I was just sort of lucky to be in that little bubble of ‘everything’s good, everything’s fine.’ But a lot of other people didn’t have that luxury.”
Boyce Took His Role Model Status Seriously
When Boyce passed away, he had completed production on the new HBO comedy Mrs. Fletcher, something he was excited about because it was such a departure from his Disney Channel fare. But he was still very mindful that a lot of children looked up to him as a role model.
“I haven’t done a Disney project in over a year now,” he said in the documentary. “The people who watch me now a lot of the times are still young. I still want to be a good example but at the same time, right now I’m doing a show about porn. And I love that sh*t, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m an actor and I want to be doing cool stuff. So it’s a weird balance when you are trying to break out of something, but I also feel the responsibility of being an example for these kids. And I take that seriously, you know? How do I marry what I’m actually doing and what I actually want to be doing with what people want to see from me and what people expect from me? Those two things are not the same.”
He added, “Everybody has an idea of what they want you to be and at that age, you don’t even know what the hell you wanna be. … It’s fucked up to think about your entire adolescent life is documented for the entire world to see. That’s crazy to think about. That’s when you go through your awkward phase, that’s when you go through ‘what am I? I don’t know what I want in this world.’ And everyone is watching you, everyone has something to say, everyone has an opinion about what you should be doing and what you shouldn’t be doing.”
Boyce Was Debating About Whether to Go to College Before He Died
Boyce revealed in the documentary that after he became an adult, he started wrestling with the idea of going to college and the fact that he wasn’t sure he was ready for the real world.
“I think I started to question everything when people would go, ‘Are you going to go to college?’ I was like, ‘Oh sh*t. No? I don’t know? Should I?’ … But that’s society’s plan. My life was to do two jobs at once — I’m doing school and working and now do I do college? Why would I, because I’ve made money, but also, that would be good for me and I don’t know anything about money and holy sh*t and then it’s just a spiral of what is it that I need to do to prepare myself for the real world because I wasn’t living in it. This was not real.”
Showbiz Kids is out now on HBO and HBO Max.