Pop singers Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas both started as Disney child stars, and made the tricky transition to being grown-ups in charge of their own lives and careers. Jonas, 23, of supremely wholesome trio The Jonas Brothers (they once promised to stay virgins until marriage), had an easier time than Lovato, also 23, who famously struggled with addiction and eating disorders, but has emerged as a feisty girl-power icon. Her "Cool for the Summer," about sexual experimentation, has even become a kind of LGBTQ anthem.
The pair (never a couple, though they came close, with Jonas dating Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez, and Lovato going with Joe Jonas), have been friends since starring in the Camp Rock movies, and recently launched Safehouse Records together. They bring their Future Now tour to the BB&T Center in Sunrise on Friday. This Q&A has been edited from a teleconference interview with writers from across the country.
- how did you meet and become friends?
Nick - My brothers and I were auditioning people for the female lead of our TV show that we were doing for the Disney Channel and Demi came in for a screen test. She didn’t get that but maybe three months later they cast her as the lead in Camp Rock. Demi and I are a month apart in age and we’re doing school together on set while filming and really connected pretty quickly. Over the years not only was it a great friendship, but also on a creative and artistic level we were both a big support for each other.
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Demi - I’m one month older and I never let him forget that when we were younger. We clicked in the screen test. We really connected during Camp Rock and then we got to tour together and then throughout the years he’s one of the most loyal and true friends that I have.
- what was it like to go from being Disney child stars to adult artists?
Nick - It was challenging at the beginning, and still is, to a certain degree. I see every challenge as an opportunity to pivot and find a new way of showing people what you’re all about. There are moments we both pushed each other as well. Demi, in pushing me to get more vulnerable in my music with this next record and encouraging me to really open up about some things that happened in my life. Those moments... really shape not only your next steps but the way the world sees you, which is key in making a transition from a youthful career to what hopefully is a long-lasting adult.
Demi - For me, the transition was a little bit easier because I didn’t have to do anything to break out of the Disney mold. It’s a lot easier when you just go to rehab. So I grew up really fast in the public eye. I wanted to prove that I wasn’t just a stereotypical Hollywood starlet that goes to rehab and falls back into the trap of what got her there. My days now consist of doing things that are going to better myself. My life right now consists of gym, AA meetings and the studio.
- Can you talk about your connection with the gay community, and why you both decided to cancel your concert in North Carolina? Do artists have a responsibility to speak up about political issues?
Demi - My connection with the LGBT community—I’ve always been an outsider [since] when I lived in Texas. I grew up with people that were judged for being gay and I never understood it. I never fit in and I didn’t agree with a lot of the opinions down in the South and when I got out to California, I saw a whole new world. So, I’m just standing up for what’s right. I want to use my voice to make a difference in the world. Cool for the Summer has a message to it so you can see how I’m passionate about that as well. I wanted to make an impact and I wanted to make a statement that said this is an important issue to me. It’s important for artists to remember that they can use their platform for the better.
Nick - We can’t speak for every artist out there. Demi and I felt it to be really important. It’s a tough call to make. We obviously feel disappointment knowing that our fans were looking forward to the show. But when something is as important to you as this issue was, you have to make a strong stand and hope that your fans unify with you to make that change. Hopefully there are artists that are always willing to make bold choices to stand up for what they believe in. I’m really sorry to the fans that are going to miss the show but this is an important issue to me and I want to speak out and I want to use my music to do it.
- What are you most proud of on your new albums?
Nick - The ability to tell my stories. I challenged myself and the people I collaborated with to not hold back and to make sure that everything felt like it came from a real place. Also exploring some new sounds, some new collaborators. I’m anxious for people to hear it all.
Demi - What I’m most excited about is I just had the mentality of [screw] it, I’m going to make the music that I really want to make, I’m going to say the things that I’m terrified to say. The honesty in my new music is what I’m really proud of.
- What can you tell us about the show itself?
Nick - The focus is less on big gags and production elements because for Demi and I now that has less importance. It’s about building content that is unique and speaks to what we’ve gone through in our lives and also challenges people’s thinking. Instead of doing separate sets, we're going to make it a night of music. The first set and then it seamlessly goes into Demi’s and then mine, together, personal moments and big scope moments to create real dynamic in the show. So hyper-specific visuals that tell a story, and they’re very different between Demi’s set and my set and when we’re on stage together there’s real symmetry. It’s about an artistic vision I have, as I see myself stepping more into the creative role. I’d love to get behind the camera and produce and direct some films. So, using the music as an opportunity to open other doors.
If you go
What: Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato Future Now tour
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: BB&T Arena, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise
Info: $12.85 to $110.70, ticketmaster.com or 800-653-8000