(CREDIT: PHOTO BY JOHN MEDLAND. / DISNEY CHANNEL Enlarge
Demi Lovato is on top of the wave - but she's surfing, thank you very much, not being swept along helplessly.
Lovato exploded onto the pop-culture scene playing the lead role opposite the Jonas Brothers in the hit Disney Channel musical Camp Rock (2008), and since then has worked nonstop. She has released two albums, "Don't Forget" (2008) and "Here We Go Again" (2009), toured solo and with the Jonas Brothers, and starred in another popular Disney Channel movie, Princess Protection Program (2009). She also headlines her own Disney Channel series, Sonny with a Chance, now in its second season, and made an acclaimed dramatic turn as a schizophrenic, suicidal patient in an episode of Grey's Anatomy (2010).
"Doing it all, that's exactly what I'm about," Lovato says. "I have so many opportunities in front of me right now, which is amazing, and I'm so blessed. Grey's Anatomy came to me with that role, and it's my favorite show. I wasn't going to turn it down.
"I have a plan," she continues, "but if opportunities come along and I'm really interested in something, I'm not going to turn it down because you never know - one day the opportunities may not be there for you."
Lovato's current endeavor brings her back to familiar territory. Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, which the Disney Channel will air Friday at 8 p.m. (Buckeye CableSystem Channel 26), reunites the first movie's entire cast, which includes Toledo native Alyson Stoner. It's a year later, and Mitchie (Lovato) is ready to spend a great summer at Camp Rock and hoping to finally lock in some bonding time with her would-be beau, the pop sensation Shane (Joe Jonas).
However, down-to-earth Camp Rock has fresh competition right across the lake in the form of glitzy Camp Star, and a nationally televised, singing-and-dancing showdown between the camps' talented attendees will determine which camp will open for business again next summer. Mitchie finds herself caught up in preparing for the Final Jam and trying to save Camp Rock, but doing so may cost her any shot at a romance with the smitten - but increasingly impatient - Shane.
Lovato reports that Camp Rock 2 - which involved not only shooting the movie but also recording a soundtrack, as well as preparing for and embarking on a current Camp Rock 2-themed concert tour - thoroughly resembled returning to a beloved camp for another summer of fun.
Lovato won't lack for projects once she finishes doing her part to launch Camp Rock 2. She's about three songs into recording her next record, which will boast an R&B vibe that's a change of pace from her earlier edgy-pop efforts. Another solo tour awaits and, in the meantime, she'll return to the set of Sonny with a Chance, in which she stars as Sonny Munroe, a small-town girl who won a talent contest and moved to Hollywood to join the cast of a popular, teen-centric sketch-comedy show.
Lovato has enjoyed remarkable success remarkably quickly, but not without paying a steep price. Like other Disney starlets, she is adored by tween fans who follow her every move, as do photographers eager to earn a buck by selling an unflattering photo.
She also has been the subject of rumors ranging from a supposed feud with friend Selena Gomez to reports in 2008 and again in 2009 that she was cutting her wrists. Her personal life is a subject of public discourse, most notably concerning her relationship with Joe Jonas: The two dated for several months earlier this year, broke up in May, but must still promote Camp Rock 2 and tour together.
If Lovato, who turned 18 on Aug. 18, had known in advance how much her life would change after Camp Rock, would she still have reached for the brass ring?
"Totally," she replies. "The entire reason why I'm doing this is because I love getting to do what I do for a living. Unfortunately, as extreme as the positives are, the negatives are going to be just as extreme. It may be difficult, but the reward is so much better than any price that you have to pay for it."
Lovato occasionally has taken to Twitter to offer her side of certain situations and attempt to correct misinformation. Striking a reasonable balance between maintaining her privacy and keeping fans abreast of her musings, moods, and activities in the digital era has proven challenging.
"There are times you get overwhelmed and you just want things to be private," she says. "At the same time you're putting yourself out there, so you just have to put up with it. "If you want your fans to relate to you, you have to share some of the experiences that you've been through," the actress says. "It's hard, because you want to be close with your fans and you want them to know things about you and you want to be 100-percent honest with them - but, then again, you have to keep an eye on what you say, because you don't want your entire life out there.
"It's a tricky situation," Lovato concludes, "but it's a learning process."