Raven-Symoné Looks Back On The Legacy Of That’s So Raven

The star tells Grazia about how the Disney Channel series changed her life.

Raven Simone

by Guy Pewsey |
Updated on

Twenty five years ago, The Disney Channel arrived on our screens. Over the years, it has made its mark on children, providing beloved series like Hannah Montana, The Wizards of Waverly Place and Kim Possible, as well as original films like High School Musical, Camp Rock and Cadet Kelly. The channel’s appeal – providing family-friendly entertainment to young people - has had an undeniable impact on viewers, but some shows made their mark more than others. For many of us growing up in the early 2000s, Disney Channel was - first and foremost - the home of That’s So Raven.

Raven Baxter was a teen with a secret: she had the ability to see the future. As the theme tune suggested, you might think this would make life a breeze. But the character’s attempts to stop personal disasters from happening often ensured that they, in fact, came to pass. It was a fun concept, but appeared entwined with important points, tackling issues like racism and unfair sizing in the fashion industry. At the centre of it all was Raven-Symoné, an actress who had grown up on TV through The Cosby Show and Hangin’ With Mr Cooper, but finally got the chance to lead her own show when Disney came calling.

‘It felt great to be able to join the Disney Channel’, she recalls to Grazia over the phone. ‘I had, as a young child, every single VHS with the classic covers in my room.’ She namechecks Mary Poppins, The Lion King, Jungle Book and Bedknobs And Broomsticks – ‘a classic!’ – as particular favourites. ‘I feel like my subconscious was training me to be a part of the Disney crew. There’s such beauty in children’s entertainment, knowing that you’re creating content for them and that their parents can feel safe with them watching.’


Disney Channel Stars, Then And Now...

Disney Channel1 of 18
CREDIT: Disney Channel

Cole and Dylan Sprouse then...

After appearing in Big Daddy – they both played Julian 'Frankenstein' McGrath – and Cole's role of Ben Geller in Friends, the twins hit the mainstream in The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, following the double trouble of two brothers living in a swanky hotel.

Disney Channel2 of 18

Cole and Dylan Sprouse now...

Cole has continued to find success in acting, particularly in hit show Riverdale. Dylan has shown less eagerness to remain in the industry – although he has appeared in short films - and is the co-owner of a meadery in Brooklyn.

Disney Channel3 of 18
CREDIT: Disney Channel

Hilary Duff then…

Who didn't love Lizzie McGuire? Hilary played the girl next door who had two loving parents, an annoying brother, two best friends, a nemesis and an imaginary cartoon sidekick. The show ran for two seasons and 65 episodes.

Disney Channel4 of 18

Hilary Duff now...

Hilary enjoyed a vaguely successful recording career after leaving the programme, as well as appearing in A Cinderella Story and Gossip Girl. After finding success in Younger – and earning her character her own spin-off – Hilary vows to return with a Lizzie McGuire spin-off.

Disney Channel5 of 18

Demi Lovato then...

After a childhood spent on Barney & Friends, Demi became a tween queen through her appearance in the Disney Channel's Camp Rock films and a stint as Sonny in Sonny With A Chance.

Disney Channel6 of 18
CREDIT: Joel Ryan

Demi Lovato now...

Demi has found huge success in the music industry with songs including Skyscraper, Heart Attack, Confident and Cool For The Summer. She even had a cameo in this year's Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga.

Disney Channel7 of 18
CREDIT: Disney Channel

Selena Gomez then...

Selena played Alex Russo, a spunky New Yorker who happens to be a wizard in training in The Wizards Of Waverley Place. The series ran on the Disney Channel from October 2007 to January 2012.

Disney Channel8 of 18
CREDIT: Joel Ryan

Selena Gomez now...

With films like Monte Carlo, The Fundamentals of Caring and The Spring Breakers under her belt, Selena has proven herself as a bankable star, and also found success as a singer with her band – Selena and the Scene – as well as solo. With 194.1 million Instagram followers, she is one of the most followed people in the world.

Disney Channel9 of 18
CREDIT: Disney Channel

Zendaya then...

Zendaya first rose to international attention of Shake It Up, a Disney channel series focused on the exploits of two wannabe dancers, played by Zendaya and Bella Thorne. She stayed with the channel until 2018, starring in spy series K.C. Undercover.

Disney Channel10 of 18
CREDIT: Joel Ryan

Zendaya now...

It is remarkable that it took only two years for Zendaya to make the jump to the mainstream. Following a role in the Spiderman franchise, she won an Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama for Euphoria and will soon be seen in sci-fi blockbuster Dune.

Disney Channel11 of 18
CREDIT: Disney Channel

Zac Efron then...

Zac became a sensation and international teen idol thanks to his role as Troy in the Disney Channel's three-strong High School Musical franchise. He was an actual god during that time. Even if he didn't actually sing in the first one...

Disney Channel12 of 18
CREDIT: Joel Ryan

Zac Efron now...

After roles in The Greatest Showman, Baywatch and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile, Zac has taken a step back and embraced nature in Netflix series Down To Earth With Zac Efron.

Disney Channel13 of 18
CREDIT: Disney Channel

Miley Cyrus then...

By day, she was Miley, student, friend, daughter, sister. By night, she was Hannah Montana, the world's biggest popstar.

Disney Channel14 of 18
CREDIT: Joel Ryan

Miley Cyrus now...

After hanging up the wig, Miley launched a film and music career, with hits including Can't Be Tamed, Party In The USA and Malibu. She performed at last year's Glastonbury, and just debuted certified banger Midnight Sky.

Disney Channel15 of 18
CREDIT: Disney Channel

Shia LaBeouf then…

Shia was the lead in Even Stevens, in which he played the mischievous Louis, the middle child in a chaotic family. It was cancelled after 65 episodes, back when the channel had a personal rule to never surpass that number (the same thing happened with Lizzie McGuire. Madness!)

Disney Channel16 of 18

Shia LaBeouf now...

Who would have thought Louis Stevens would prove to be one of the Disney Channel's biggest acting talents. Since leaving the channel he's shown up in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Transformers, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Honey Boy and The Peanut Butter Falcon. He's a bit chaotic, but undeniably a star.

Disney Channel17 of 18
CREDIT: Disney Channel

Raven Simone then...

Raven was already famous before taking the lead in That's So Raven, thanks to her role in The Cosby Show. But in playing a high school psychic with a tendency to get into trouble, she cemented her status as a Disney star.

Disney Channel18 of 18

Raven Symone now...

Raven has returned to the channel, starring in That's So Raven spin-off Raven's Home. She has been a regular on The View, and recently popped up on the US version of Celebrity Gogglebox.

The impressive feat of fronting a series that would be broadcast all over the world was not lost on the star, then just a teenager. ‘I know a lot of people who worked their whole careers in order to make a standout moment’, she says. ‘And I, at the age of sixteen, was able to have my own show with my name on it, and work with some of the most talented people to create a show that will entertain families for years to come. That’s So Raven was my third television show in the industry, so I knew that it's not the best thing to put so much pressure on the show: I didn't really feel or think about the potential impact of the show until after.’

This impact was undoubtedly felt, even now. When the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement led to many looking inward at their own prejudices, and how the media is often culpable in encouraging them, one That’s So Raven clip re-emerged on Twitter. In it, Raven is passed over for a retail job in favour of her white friend, Chelsea, who is lovely but, well, clumsy. Raven fights to prove that the store’s manager made the decision based on Raven’s race. For those who hadn’t seen the programme in more than a decade, it was a reminder of the fact that That’s So Raven was about more than psychic capers.

‘Now that I look back, I’m so happy we did that’, Raven agrees. ‘Television is something people have on and interact with more than we do with the people in our lives. You need television that is educational, that is entertaining, that is drama-filled, you need all kinds. That’s So Raven explored things going on in children’s lives, and showed how to deal with it.’

Raven-Symoné missed Raven Baxter, leaving her regular slot on The View – America’s more current-affairs-based version of Loose Women – to revisit the role in spin-off Raven’s Home. It meant reuniting with Chelsea – played by Anneliese van der Pol – but she’s also kept in touch with the rest of the cast. ‘There’s a group chat on my phone’, she says. ‘We were a tight-knit cast: we grew up together. I’m going to call them my family, because that’s what they are.’

At only 34, a woman who grew up on screen has cemented herself in the hearts and minds of millions of people. Millions is, in this case, not an overstatement. ‘What I love about television is that you can touch many different generations’, she says. ‘This is going to sound kind of braggy but have the honour to be able to sit in a room with a grandmother, their child and their grandchild, and each of them can say they watched me in something - The Cosby Show, Hangin’ With Mr Cooper, That’s So Raven. I’m so fortunate to have that.’

Not braggy at all, actually. Just so Raven.

That’s So Raven and Raven’s Home are available on Disney+

READ MORE: The Internet Is Obsessed With These Viral Sex And The City Videos

READ MORE: Love Island's Ovie Soko Shares His Words Of Wisdom With Grazia

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us