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Stars of ‘Descendants 3,’ ‘Zombies 2’ Laud Strong Female Characters on TV

Promoting strong female characters was very much on brand for several of Disney Channel’s star characters at Saturday’s Disney Channel Fan Fest held at California Adventure Park, a day-long event that treated kids and their families to a bevy of fan-focused activities, from Q&A sessions to musical performances and meet and greets with Disney Channel stars.

Sofia Carson, who stars as Evie, daughter of the Evil Queen in Disney Channel’s original movies “Descendants” and “Descendants 2,” revealed that in the third installation her character will continue to be a positive role model for young viewers.

“Evie has always been very much focused on her heart and what she cares about most is giving back and especially empowering young girls and young women everywhere, so you’ll especially see that in ‘Descendants 3,’ said Carson, who also joined the cast of the Freeform drama series “Pretty Little Liars” this past year.

“It’s just a really beautiful and emotional and almost political message,” says Carson of Evie’s character arc. “So many girls are raised to believe that we are defined by our reflection in the mirror, and we should really only be defined by what’s in our hearts and in our minds, and that’s what Evie says.”

Co-star Dove Cameron, who is readying to release her debut single and music video and is also set to appear in the London production of the Tony Award-winning musical, “The Light in the Piazza,” starting this summer, assures fans of the “Descendants” franchise that “we tie up so many loose ends.”

“So many stories get their fulfillment,” says Cameron, who stars as Mal, daughter of Maleficent. “You see things go in a direction where you want them to go.”

Sadie Stanley, who stars in the Disney Channel live-action feature-length adaptation of the early aughts’ animated series “Kim Possible,” was intent on crafting a protagonist that inspired Disney Channel audiences.

“This is a very iconic character that means a lot to a lot of people and their childhood, and I wanted to make sure that I brought a lot of cartoon animated Kim’s personality traits and characteristics and idiosyncrasies into my live-action version of her,” sais Stanley.

“It’s so important now more than ever in this amazing age of woman empowerment to continue to have these multi-dimensional characters who are strong and powerful but they are also flawed and human and relatable and realistic and they are doing whatever comes authentically to them,” she continued. “I think that’s such an amazing role model for young kids—girls and boys—to have and look up to. That’s so important and that’s what I want to do with my career. I want to play roles that inspire people with the characters that I play.”

Kylee Russell and Meg Donnelly, who star in “Zombies” and its upcoming sequel “Zombies 2,” spoke of the parallels between the real-life adolescence and the two Disney Channel original movies, in which zombies and cheerleaders vie for love, friendship and acceptance at an American high school in the fictitious town of Seabrook.

“When you are not secure in yourself you become insecure and you take out your insecurities on other people,” said Donnelly. “And I think a lot of times in Seabrook they were treating zombies unfairly just because they were different or just because they were scared of them, but they had no idea their cultural background or where they came from.”

“Self-acceptance is a theme both in ‘Zombies’ and in real life,” added Russell. “In high school you’re kind of trying to learn who you are and there are so many cliques and you’re like, ‘Where do I belong?’ But once you learn how to accept and love who you are and you love yourself, you’ll fit in anywhere.”

Other celebrity attendees at Disney Channel Fan Fest included Peyton Elizabeth-Lee and Joshua Rush (“Andi Mack”); Miranda May and Mallory James Mahoney (“Bunk’d); Bobby Moynahan and Danny Pudi (“Ducktales”) and Raven-Symoné, star of “Raven’s Home.”

“We all film in different places. Some film in Utah, people film in Canada. And to be able to come together and it’s not competitive, to see everybody’s faces, it’s what it’s all about,” she said of what she loves best about the Fan Fest event. “A lot of times you have different shows and you are fighting for that number one spot. But when you bring us all together like this and you put your [Mickey Mouse] ears on, we are here for entertainment.”

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