By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Septien says Demi, quite honestly, was singing songs that were probably too old for her—meaning, she says, too hard. The girl could sing the notes between the notes—the "inner notes," they're called—and hold them forever. She could scat, sing R&B as well as pop and make someone else's song her own with only a few tries. She was in a master's class and working with the teacher's stable of songwriters, Septien says, by the time she was 10.
"Demi probably entertained me more than I helped her," Septien says. "I got a kick out of her, because she was so funny. She's been in the industry a long time. She's seasoned. She's grown up in it. There are just some kids who are born entertaining. They seek people to watch them, and they want to know so much. We get a lot of questions about stage moms, and I laugh. We don't have any stage mothers. We have stage kids. The parents are the ones who say, 'I don't want to be here, it's too expensive.' But the kids seek out more and more education."
Her mother and father both insist she could quit tomorrow and they'd be fine with it—though, likely, Disney would have something to say about it at this point. But that's the furthest thing from her mind, as she pushes onward and upward toward unfathomable fame awaiting only Disney's chosen few.
Fact is, says Disney's Michael Healey, Camp Rock wasn't even intended as a Jonas Brothers vehicle; they had to be shoe-horned in there. No, in fact, it was always Demi's movie first and foremost, something she landed the moment Healey and the Disney higher-ups first saw her on tape, after she'd been tapped at a Disney casting call at KD Studios on Stemmons Freeway at the beginning of 2007.
"I wish it were mathematical or something, but I think it has to do with gut instinct," Healey says. "It was always written as the girl's story: a Cinderella story of a girl who wants to go to camp, can't afford it, and once there, sort of hides her identity because she's shy and afraid that she won't fit in. And we needed somebody who was a talented singer, and when Demi came in, she just was so radiant and such a great singing talent that we thought, 'How could we turn her down?'"
So they didn't. Because the glass slipper fit.
And, sure, there is always the chance the carriage will turn into a pumpkin. Disney Channel's made some 75 movies, and few are those in the viewing audience who can name any that don't begin with High School Musical. But, like Marsh says, he's gone all in—and, as keeper of the Kingdom, he does possess the royal flush. For the time being, anyway.
But, if he goes broke with that hand, then, ya know, whatever. Demi writes her own songs. She can act. She can sing. She'll be fine. She's a cagey vet, a girl who once told a prospective manager to keep his contract after he refused to acknowledge that by meeting with her, he was all but betraying his other clients—since, she says, "we would be in competition." She laughs. "I actually made him sweat." She takes great pride in this. So do her parents.
"My decisions of where I'll be in 20 years or 10 years have changed in just a few months," Demi says. She's been at this photo shoot for six hours. Her dad thinks she looks tired. "You can see it in her eyes."
But sitting in a small room in which she's had her last coat of makeup applied for the day, she seems anything but. She's ready to keep going—more photos, more interviews, more everything. That's how the dream goes, right?
And how does it end?
"I really wanna be a director."