Interviewed by Morgan McMurrin
Tiffany Thornton may be known for her comedic timing in shows like “That’s So Raven,” “Hannah Montana,” “Wizards of Waverly Place” and “Sonny With A Chance,” but her real life hasn’t always been as cheerful. Find out what this fun-loving, up-and-coming actress had to say when she spoke with AC about one of the toughest times in her life and what she’s doing now to help prevent others from going through what she did.
AC: You’re probably best known for your role as Tawni on Disney Channel’s popular sitcom “Sonny With a Chance” which is now, “So Random.” Have you always wanted to be a part of a family-friendly comedy series or were you mostly interested in drama until you landed this role?
Tiffany Thornton: I love comedy! It’s definitely my forte, I really enjoy making people laugh. I’ve always loved the Disney Channel and what it stands for as a company, so it was a perfect fit for me.
AC: Because “So Random” focuses on a group of teens who star on a sketch show like “SNL,” do you always find yourself laughing on set?
TT: My co-stars are very funny people in real life as well as on screen so yes. We laugh a lot on set, especially when one of us forgets our lines or we break character in the middle of a scene.
AC: We love your character’s style! Do you get any say in what Tawni wears?
TT: Our wardrobe team is extremely talented in choosing outfits for our characters to wear, but they’re also awesome about letting us decide what we feel best in. Sometimes we even get to go in the closet and pick what we feel our character would want to wear that week.
AC: Speaking of fashion, you recently got to do something every girl dreams of—shop for a wedding dress! How many did you try on before you found the perfect gown?
TT: My dress ended up being none other than a dress I already owned! Isn’t that crazy? I always thought I’d be the girl who tried on like, 30 dresses, but it turns out I didn’t ne ed to. I was in BCBG for a fitting nearly two years ago when I saw this beautiful dress in black and asked to try it on just for fun. They obliged, and once I had it on I knew I wanted to wear it for a special occasion.
AC: Wow, that’s amazing!
TT: Yeah, I asked my friend, Brittany (who works for BCBG), if they made the dress in white or ivory. She told me that Estee, the woman who designed that specific part of the Max Azria line, would be happy to make it in either color for my wedding. So they did! I’m beyond blessed to have had a custom-made dress and not have to shop forever to find it.
AC: Can you give us a hint about what your dress looks like?
TT: It’s ivory and has some Swarovski crystals on it and BCBG/Max Azria designed it. That’s about all I can say, because I don’t want to ruin the surprise!
AC: Now that your former co-star Demi Lovato is focusing on her singing career and is no longer part of the “So Random” cast, how’s the show’s plot changed?
TT: You don’t really se e behind-the-scenes of “So Random” anymore. Now, our episodes are full of sketches with diff erent wigs, accents and costumes. We also started having musical guests, which has been really cool!
AC: Did you remain close after she left?
TT: I absolutely love Dem. She’s like a sister to me, so it was sad learning I wasn’t going to see her at work everyday like I was used to , but I spent plenty of time with her on the ph one when she was in treatment. I really just want whatever is best for her.
AC: Do you still find time to hang out?
TT: Yeah! Just a couple weeks ago I went to see Demi in concert in L.A. and she was amazing, as I knew she’d be. All of us at “So Random” are super proud of the woman she’s become and are ecstatic that she’s getting to do what she loves. Of course we miss her, but we all know that God has a perfect plan for each and every one of us and can’t wait to see what the future holds for Demi’s career.
AC: In addition to acting, it was just announced that you joined the Voices of Meningitis campaign as their national spokesperson. How’d you get involved with Voices of Meningitis?
TT: I joined the Voices of Meningitis campaign because I contracted the disease when I was a teenager. I want all teens and their parents to understand the dangers of meningitis and the importance of vaccination, so they can help prevent this disease from happening to them or their children.
AC: Can you explain to our readers what the illness is and how they can catch it?
TT: I’m very excited to be a part of the Voices of Meningitis campaign for meningitis prevention. Meningococcal disease is a rare, but it’s a serious bacterial infection that can cause meningitis and take a child’s life in just one day. The disease is spread through common everyday activities—sharing water bottles, drinking glasses or eating utensils, kissing and even not getting enough sleep, all make preteens and teens more vulnerable to this potentially deadly disease.
AC: Why’s this campaign so close to your heart?
TT: Getting meningitis was the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me. My parents and I didn’t know that preteens and teens are at greater risk for meningitis, or that it can strike so quickly. I went from being a perfectly healthy and active teen to fighting for my life within a few hours. And I’m one of the lucky ones since I survived with no major complications. I don’t want others to go through what I did.
AC: People probably fail to realize how serious meningitis can be. Is it true in your case, it became life threatening?
TT: Yes, I nearly died from it when I was just a teenager. In fact, my doctor later said that it was a miracle I survived without any long-lasting consequences, and that I could have been dead a week later. Although it’s a rare disease, about 10 percent of people who get meningitis die from it. Preteens and teens are at a greater risk for meningitis and more likely to die from it than most other age groups. For those who survive, about 20 percent have serious long-term consequences, including loss of limbs, deafness and brain damage. So as you can see, I’m very fortunate. I want to help others avoid this often devastating disease.
AC: What are some ways teens can avoid this disease?
TT: The best way to prevent the disease is getting the vaccination. Public health officials recommend vaccination for preteens and teens beginning at age 11, with a booster dose by age 18. You can go to voicesofmeningitis.org or find us on Facebook at Raise Your Voice Against Meningitis to get more information.
AC: We heard you would have liked to become a pediatrician if you weren’t an actress. Does that have anything to do with the time you spent in the hospital?
TT: Yes, my doctors were so dedicated during my fight with meningitis, and they showed me what true courage really means. I wanted to become a pediatrician because I’d like to help keep other young people safe and healthy. I’m so proud to be doing that through the Voices of Meningitis campaign.
AC: You’re such a great role model for young girls! Do you like that aspect of your job?
TT: Aw, thank you! It’s an honor to be trusted with such a big responsibility. I hope I can give girls and boys alike someone to look up to, and may think to themselves: “Wow, she inspires me to be a good person, to get involved in things that help others, to love people just the way they are.” I think there can never be enough love in the world and I really do hope that by being in the spotlight I’m able to help people.