This doesn’t happen. Bella’s mom and I discuss the possibility, and acknowledge that it’s terrifying, but also remote. Most of the human race is good. Most of us aren’t murderers. Lots of us, however, are Bella Thorne fans (4.5 million Twitter followers, 2.2 million on Instagram), so it’s not insane to pay the thought at least some attention. When your daughter’s been on a hit Disney show, when she has four movies coming out in 2014, and an album, and a three-book deal with Random House, when she’s going on tour, which means thousands of her fans will be seeing her in person, approaching her for autographs, and photos, and hugs, you might worry a little. Tonight, though, any theoretical horror story remains theoretical.
Bella’s having a great time, doing what any newly 16-year-old would do at a Halloween-themed park: singing with her friends while waiting in line, taking selfies, observing that some of the dudes jumping out to scare us actually have pretty good bodies (they’re wearing masks, but they’re shirtless and covered in paint). But she’s also polished for her age: When monsters approach, she engages them in conversation, complimenting costumes and props, musing about the logistics of casting such a huge operation—do the actors work every night? Do they rotate in shifts? When a masked ghoul demands a joke as a final toll before allowing us to leave the haunted maze, she launches—no hesitation at all—into the classic “Knock knock…interrupting cow” bit. Gamely tackle the unfamiliar?
Sure, Bella never sang or danced before starring on Shake It Up but took lessons and now does both. “I’m not the best singer in the world,” she admits. “I’m not gonna lie. I’m not Mariah Carey. But I like to make music that people can dance and have fun to.”
She has dyslexia but is writing a novel nonetheless, about a girl whose journal entries spring to life. “The problem is, [the main character] is dyslexic, so when she writes in [her journal], it’s a little bit wonky,” Bella says, before sharing that she never anticipated penning a book herself. “The only reason I even wanted to write a book was to show everybody that [even] if I’m dyslexic, I can write a book. I don’t care what disability you have, or mental illness, or whatever it is, you can overcome it and do exactly what you’ve always wanted.”
She Disneyed her way to stardom, but in a few days is off to New Mexico to film Big Sky, in which she plays an agoraphobic who is besieged by gunmen. “She can’t leave her room and she goes to get transported to a mental hospital,” Bella tells me. “And then this big thing happens, and it’s just a—it’s a mess. It turns out really bad.” On her Instagram there’s a telltale set photo of her hands covered in blood.
If Bella’s choices are an investment—and aren’t they?—her portfolio is rapidly diversifying. So it’s no surprise when, technically beholden to answering only one fan-submitted question for this article, she readily answers two.
Define what happiness means to you. “For me, happiness means when you laugh. Whenever you laugh, it means you’re happy.” Bella explains that she feels genuinely happy whenever she laughs at something that her friends say, which means that tonight’s joy quotient is astronomical—they’ve been cracking each other up all evening.
What are your thoughts on twerking? “My thoughts on twerking…yes, girl, if you wanna be fabulous, be fabulous.”
Bella Thorne makes it through the spooky spectacle tonight with giggles, not terror, healthy and in one piece. Will she navigate her career the same way? The monsters here are fake; the demons that stalk child stars as they grow up are very, very real. Some kids succumb, briefly, and then emerge on the other side (trading on-set drunkenness for theater roles and sobriety if you’re Daniel Radcliffe; hitting up rehab if you’re Zac or Demi); others are arguably lingering in the eye of the storm, the endgame still a mystery (Lindsay, Britney); a few manage to make it through with nothing but grace and a haircut that people disagree about (Emma Watson). Which one will Bella be? She’s definitely hardworking and seems clear-headed; her mother is super cool in a normal mom way, not a stage mom way; escaping the maelstrom unharmed is possible. If we bother to inquire, the sideshow psychic positioned near the Hall of Mirrors and Scary-Go-Round will probably gaze into the future and agree.
“Former Teen Sensation Bella Thorne, 22, Sidesteps Paparazzi at Release Party for Latest Album.” This could happen. “Three-time Oscar-winner Bella Thorne, 35, Announces Directorial Debut, Pregnancy, and Marriage to Long-time Boyfriend.” This could happen. ‘“Actress Bella Thorne, 16, Takes Advantage of a Brief Break Between Film Projects to Enjoy VIP Treatment at the L.A. Haunted Hayride.” This is happening. “Friendly Tenth-grader Has Kickass Night Out.” This is happening, too.
Photographer: Zoey Grossman for Artmixcreative.com. Stylist: Zoe Costello for themagnetagency.com. Hair: Ramsell Martinez for streeters.com. Makeup: Melanie Inglessis for themagnetagency.com. Manicure: Stephanie Stone for nailinghollywood.com. Styling Assistant: Jessica Lynn Suchon. Lighting: Charles Grauke. Location: Mack Sennett Studios at Macksennettstudios.net.
Beauty Notes: Illuminizer in Orgasm by Nars, Killer Eyes Mascara by Giorgio Armani Beauty, and Rose Balm by Terry.
Bella Thorne was featured in 2016 in Flaunt: A Few Favorites from a Fabulous Year