Jennifer Stone is Disney Channel royalty. From 2007 to 2012, she starred as Harper Finkle on Wizards of Waverly Place, a show she’s still recognized for to this day. “I’ve had a lot of people come up to me since the show be like, ‘Look, when I was a teenager, Harper was my favorite because she showed me that it’s OK to be outside the box and to be my maximum self and to dress weird or not be the norm.’ I loved that,” Stone tells StyleCaster.
After Wizards of Waverly Place ended, Stone was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 20 years old. “It took four years to get the proper diagnosis and the proper treatment,” Stone says. “I had a lot of healthcare professionals tell me, “This is what a Type 1 looks like and you don’t look like the norm. So you can’t be a Type 1.’” The experience motivated Stone to take a break from acting to study nursing so others wouldn’t experience what she went through. “I wanted to make sure no one ever experienced again of not being believed, of not being seen, of not being valued for exactly what they’re saying and bringing to the table,” she says.
Stone, who currently works as a nurse in Los Angeles while still acting, is the face of Olay’s Maximize Me campaign, which encourages people to celebrate themselves as they are.
“I remember the day of the shoot, I had a moment where I was like, ‘Oh, God. I have to make sure I don’t have any zits. I don’t have any bags under my eyes,’ which have become so much worse since nursing,” Stone recalls of her photoshoot for Olay’s zero-retouching Skin Promise. “Then I had a moment where I was like, ‘What am I doing? What am I afraid of people seeing?’ Is it that I helped people for 12 hours yesterday? Like, yeah, maybe I have a zit because I’ve been wearing an N-95 for 12 hours. Maybe I’ve got bags under my eyes because I just worked a 12-hour shift. But that’s something worth celebrating instead of just another pretty face.”
Ahead, Stone talked to StyleCaster about the chances of a Wizards of Waverly Place reunion, what it’s like to be a frontline worker and how she relates to her Wizards co-star Selena Gomez amid the pandemic.
On her transition from acting to nursing
“After the diabetes diagnosis, I had a doctor tell me that I should quit acting and go home because I needed to focus on this for the rest of my life. I had people tell me with acting that I’m too this, I’m too that. I’m too whatever. With nursing, I had people questioning, coming from an acting background, if I would be willing to get down and dirty and do the things that I really had to do to help people and do the hard work. If I’d be able to do the long shifts and not be in the spotlight and be in a more service position. I had a lot of people who doubted my capabilities of doing things. I think a lot of times people do that to people, where they minimize what they’re capable of.”
On fans recognizing her at her job as a nurse
“It happens quite frequently, which I find amazing because when I’m at work, I have a scrub cap on, I’ve got goggles, and I have an N-95 on all day. When people go, ‘Were you on Wizards? Were you this?’ It’s always amazing to me. They’re like, ‘It’s your voice.’ I’m like, ‘Oh, right. I forget I have a weird voice.’ It’s cool when that happens because then I can join these two worlds. If you had told me 10 years ago that this is where I would be now, balancing these two loves for acting and for nursing, I would be like, ‘You’re crazy.’ When people recognize me from my past work, it’s a nice opportunity to put a smile on somebody’s face when they’re having a bad day. That, to me, is such a gift I feel blessed to have.”
On the chances of a Wizards of Waverly Place reunion
“We’ve all talked about it with each other. We all want to do it. It’s a matter of finding the right story and the right time because, yes, it would be for us because we all want to work together again, but we also don’t want to pump out a story that isn’t right and doesn’t serve the fans. We have such a strong fanbase, and we’ve been so fortunate to have people be so supportive, even years later, that we want to make sure that it’s right. As far as where Harper is, we did have one episode where they went to the future and saw where Harper is. I’m the only one who has a glimpse of where she is. I think I was writing books about the Russos and wearing fishbowls on my head. The biggest thing is we all want to do the reunion, but we want it to be right. We don’t want the fans to feel jipped by it. We want them to feel satisfied and that we did the show justice.”
On how she relates to Selena Gomez amid the pandemic
“As a nurse and her friend, my biggest concern is that she takes care of herself. She loves to work, and she works hard. I think it’s easy in this business, and for a lot of women, to work yourself ragged, so that’s always a concern. I want to make sure that she finds that life balance of work and TLC. I know I struggle with finding that life balance of working and pursuing your passions, but also taking the time to take care of yourself as well.”
On what it’s like to be a frontline worker
“There’s still so much unknown about the virus. As far as the people who aren’t taking it seriously, there’s a lot of misinformation. There’s a lot of misnomers about it. It’s not complicated. Stay six feet apart. Wear a mask. If you have symptoms, stay at home for two weeks. It does get frustrating because we’ve had people come to the ER, and they’re like, ‘This isn’t real, come on.’ I’m like, ‘Really? We have them in this room, this room and this room that are positive.’ It’s not complicated but you can become weary in doing what you need to do to stay safe and keep other people safe. The biggest thing I would say to people is stay diligent until we have more of a clear way to tackle this.”
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