Alyson Stoner revealed they were “uncomfortable” experiencing their first kiss on camera at 12 years old.
The actor, known for starring in Missy Elliott’s “Work It” music video and their roles in the “Step Up” franchise and Disney’s “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody,” recalled during a recent episode of their YouTube series “Dear Hollywood” that they had to kiss both Dylan Sprouse and Cole Sprouse for an episode of “The Suite Life.” The experience left them with conflicted feelings.
“Your character may have some arc or transformation that isn’t evident upon reading the script of the first episode,” Stoner explained. “So writers and executives might decide to make your character do anything on the next episode and it’s assumed that you’re going to agree to whatever’s scripted. My first kiss, and several of the times I experienced kissing, all happened on camera.”
“I remember on ‘Suite Life’ on Disney, I’d already booked the role of Max and I’d filmed an episode and the character was a tomboy and I vaguely remember, you know, being a friend to Zack and Cody at school. … Well, a few weeks later, they wrote an episode where Max had to kiss both twins, and I can’t remember if both kisses ended up in the final edit or if Disney was like, that’s a little too much kissing for one episode.”
Stoner continued that they had no idea that kissing would be required for the role when they auditioned to play Max. “Was I ready for that? No, I felt young and uncomfortable,” Stoner said. But they were already under contract and didn’t want to appear difficult, especially “because I’m only a recurring role, like closer to guest star than a lead, with less clout.”
Stoner says they felt like this was their job and they’d made the choice to act and auditioned for the project. “So in that way I justified like, OK, I can have my kiss here and then I’ll have my own separate first kiss at some point.”
Also in the episode, Stoner revealed that wardrobe fittings could be a confusing experience for the child actor.
“It’s common during wardrobe fittings to have a child undressing and changing in front of adults who might also touch their body including near their genitals, even if it’s just to grab measurements. And then when you’ve gone through hair and makeup, the glam team will spend the rest of the day touching you up, fixing loose hairs, dabbing sweat, re-lining your lips, and then when you get miked up on set, a stranger slips their cold, clammy hand under your shirt or into your pants to place the mic and mic pack against your bare skin,” Stoner said.
“Do you hope that they ask permission first? Yes. But whether or not they do, it doesn’t remove the weirdness of countless adults touching my bare adolescent skin under my clothes, and then wearing headphones, so they can hear every breath, every sneeze, every word I say for the rest of that period, even when the cameras aren’t rolling.”
Stoner wanted to make it clear that they aren’t “claiming that any of these steps are automatically dangerous or wrong, though they can be and they have been.”
“I’m just presenting it through the lens of a young person who is receiving their earliest conditioning about their own bodily autonomy.”
During a 2022 appearance on “The Conversationalist” podcast, host Sophie Beren asked Stoner if she thought child actors were inherently destined for disaster.
“I think when you have infrastructure in place in systems, and it has gone unchecked and unexamined … there will inevitably be a predisposition to increased suffering and potentially even problematic behavior. Because it’s by design,” Stoner said.
“And when you have a child who’s never had a blueprint for the world, experiencing reality for the first time in such a chaotic and unusual set of circumstances, you will likely see some kind of unusual behavior as a response.”