'Hannah Montana' role put young actor on map

Growing up a self-proclaimed “theater kid” in Houston, Sterling Knight didn’t always think he’d become a paid actor.

“I was just doing it for fun, but then one day I realized having the opportunity to do something you love and get financially compensated for it is so rare, so I went for it,” says Knight, whose first job came in 2007 when he moved to Los Angeles and landed a role in an episode of “Hannah Montana.”

“It put me in debt,” he recalls with a laugh. “They don’t really pay guest stars much.”

The gig actually paid for itself quickly, however. After a few more guest spots (on “The Closer” and “Grey’s Anatomy”), Knight landed the role of Demi Lovato’s love interest in the Disney series “Sonny With a Chance” and Zac Efron’s son in bigscreen comedy “17 Again.”

“I’ve really relished the fact that I’m learning so much,” Knight says. “I’ve been so lucky to work with such gracious and intelligent people who have put up with my naivete.”

Next up for Knight are a starring role in Disney Channel movie “Starstruck,” which will air around Valentine’s Day, and another season of “Sonny.”

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