Disney alum Brenda Song recently recalled choosing “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” instead of attending Harvard University.
In an interview with GlamorSong, 34, described some of the struggles she faced as the eldest child of a first-generation Thai and Hmong family pursuing her childhood dream of becoming an actor.
Although Song’s parents and grandparents had supported her career, she remembered her family’s financial problems.
At the age of 16, Song booked Disney’s “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and was accepted into Harvard University.
However, it was also the same year that her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
More from NextShark: Original ‘Cowboy Bebop’ Japanese voice cast reunites after 20 years to dub live-action Netflix series
As she navigated her career choices, Song was encouraged by her parents to keep acting as it was her passion.
Song’s mother had grown up seeing her own parents have to do various jobs, such as working in factories or being a housekeeper. Song believes her mother wanted “more and better” for her, she told Glamour.
I had no hesitation in choosing acting, but it was hard because Harvard was a dream of mine. When I worked for the Disney Channel, I was still able to get my education in another medium and do what I love to do. But in this industry, the highs are so high and the lows are so low. It’s so inconsistent. I’ve asked myself so many times: should I have gotten my degree and done something more stable?
More from NextShark: AAPI immigrant representation on TV has more than doubled since 2020, study shows
Song also remembered the pressure and judgment she felt from her relatives.
She told Glamour that her relatives looked down on her family for supporting her decision to pursue acting.
Our relatives thought what we were doing was insane. It’s funny because it’s insane until you achieve success and all of a sudden you’re the prized kid. But we felt shunned for taking a risk no one else was taking.
Despite the inconsistencies many actors face in their careers, Song is happy with her life choices.
She and actor Macaulay Culkin previously welcomed their first childDakota, in 2021.
Song also noted that she had achieved her goals, such as buying a house for her parents. She said her family is “super close” and being a mom to Dakota is now her top priority.
“I wouldn’t change a thing,” she told Glamour.
I don’t think you have to compromise yourself to be successful. I felt so much pressure. I thought: Do I have to change myself to take myself to the next level? Honestly, I know some very successful people who are the most unhappy people because they spent so much time being what everyone wants them to be. My mom would tell me, “Don’t do it.”
In addition to Song’s notable role as London Tipton in ‘The Suite Life of Zack and Cody’, she has also starred in original Disney movies, including ‘Stuck in the Suburbs’ and ‘Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior’. Song has also appeared in several TV series, such as ‘Scandal’, ‘New Girl’ and ‘Dollface’, and even ventured into video games as Kaitlyn Ka in the 2022 interactive drama-horror game ‘The Quarry’.