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Why You Rarely Hear From Disney Channel Star Jake T. Austin Anymore

Jake T. Austin launched his acting career as a child after gaining attention for his voice work as Diego in "Dora the Explorer" and "Go, Diego, Go!" The latter series was nominated for four NAACP Image Awards for outstanding children's program between 2008 to 2012 to recognize how it furthered the representation of Latino and Hispanic characters on television.

In 2005, Austin achieved a live-action breakthrough when the Disney Channel cast him as Max Russo in the Emmy-winning series, "Wizards of Waverly Place." In 2009, Austin starred in two feature films, playing Bruce in "Hotel for Dogs" and Angel Macias in "The Perfect Game," an inspiring true story about a group of boys from Monterrey, Mexico, who became the Little League World Series champions.

Austin said being associated with Disney opened doors for him in the entertainment industry, explaining how "It was a huge learning experience, getting to be on such a successful groundbreaking show at such a young age," Austin told Flaunt Magazine, adding that it was "Probably one of the most educational experiences of my life. While most kids were going to school, my education was a film set."

When "Wizards of Waverly Place" ended, Austin was primed for a successful career trajectory, but the transition from child star to adult actor is perilous, and not everyone has incredible adult careers like his TV sister Selena Gomez had. Keep reading if you are curious about why you rarely hear from this Disney Channel star anymore.

Jake T. Austin left The Fosters after only two seasons

When "Wizards of Waverly Place" ended, Jake T. Austin rebounded quickly, landing the role of Jesus Foster on "The Fosters." However, after only two seasons on "The Fosters," Austin made the surprising decision to leave the show. He announced his plans on Twitter, "I'm honored to have been a part of such a groundbreaking series, but I personally want to let you know that my time on the show..." Austin added in another post, "has come to an end. Thank you for letting me be a part of your family, it's been a pleasure."

Austin refuted fans' speculations in a Q&A on Twitter, which has since been removed, stating he hadn't left the series because he didn't want to play a teenager anymore. Austin explained, "I just wanted to do roles with more substantive content," adding, "I was only asked to return for 3 episodes and wasn't going to be able to work on anything else, so I left."

In 2017, Seventeen reported Austin left "The Fosters" because his role was going to be cut back in Season 3, citing a since-deleted tweet. Austin explained he didn't want a diminishing role to hold him back from seeking other acting opportunities. Maia Mitchell, who played Callie on "The Fosters," told Young Entertainment, "He [Jake] wasn't the right fit. He wasn't interested in doing the show anymore, so he left."

Rumors of bad behavior may have affected his career trajectory

After Jake T. Austin announced he was leaving "The Fosters" there were rumors of bad behavior on-set, as well as reports of an alleged meltdown backstage at the Teen Choice Awards after someone working backstage didn't recognize him and wouldn't allow him access to the gift suite. The young actor allegedly yelled at the employee for not knowing who he was, getting so heated he threw an empty shoe box at the employee.

Getting a reputation for being difficult can be a career killer — just look at what happened to Shannen Doherty on "90210." Likewise, consider the dip in acting credits Anthony Michael Hall suffered while trying to rebound from excessive drinking, bad behavior, and some less-than-successful movies as a young man. In 2019, Austin reflected on his time on "The Fosters" and admitted he was running with the wrong crowd while getting wrapped up in the Hollywood lifestyle.

Austin told Flaunt Magazine, "Over time, I started losing the sense of the love and passion of things I took for granted. I started not remembering my lines, not taking my craft as seriously as an actor should," while working on "The Fosters." Austin said, "When I was 18 or 19 and I was going through a lot," and "I just think that there are certain decisions that I made in the past that looking back I would definitely do differently."

Austin had some legal troubles

During his stint on "The Fosters," it wasn't just rumors of bad behavior that followed Jake T. Austin. He was also making headlines for a string of driving-related infractions that suggested the young star was enjoying the nightlife of Los Angeles a little too much. The CHP pulled Austin over for driving at night with his headlights off on October 8, 2013, and gave him a field sobriety test. Austin reportedly blew a .08 and was arrested for a DUI, according to TMZ. In November, Austin's car was involved in an accident involving multiple cars.

Austin's Audi crashed into three parked cars in Sherman Oaks around three in the morning in November 2013. Witnesses told TMZ that after the accident someone in the car threw a bottle of vodka out of the vehicle. Witnesses also saw a car pick up the driver and passengers before the police arrived to investigate the hit-and-run. Austin reportedly left the scene of the accident in an Uber to seek medical attention.

Austin's lawyer contacted the police to explain why his client left the scene. Since Austin's lawyer reported the accident within the correct timeframe and said they would compensate the owners of the damaged cars, Austin was not brought up on hit-and-run charges for leaving the scene since he needed medical treatment. Austin's lawyer negotiated a plea deal for his October DUI charge, dropping his infraction to a speeding charge with 24 months of probation.

Austin chose to take a break from acting after leaving The Fosters

In 2019, Austin admitted he took a step back from acting, telling Flaunt, "I kind of lost sight of who I was as a person." The actor said his role on "The Fosters," being recast, "was probably the best thing that could have happened to me," explaining how "it prevented me from getting too big for my britches and really prevented my behavior from getting worse."

It's important to note that there have been no reports of the actor having trouble with law enforcement in the decade since his DUI and accident. "For a while I was really enveloped in the characters I was playing and connected to them," Austin told Flaunt. Austin said he thinks playing different characters for years while growing up and hitting puberty on-screen left him detached from who he truly was, explaining, "I started losing touch in many ways."

Taking time off helped him reconnect to himself and his love of filmmaking and storytelling. "I'm interested in diving deeper beneath that surface," through his craft. "You know, people are very interesting. There is not one perfect person, not one truly evil person. Good and evil can reveal themselves at different times in the same person's life," Austin told Flaunt Magazine, "I'm just interested in exploring those sides of humanity through film."

Austin has continued doing voice work

Despite cooling it on live-action television and film roles for a beat, Jake T. Austin has begun revisiting his acting roots, taking on a handful of voice roles for animated features and videos. In 2016, Austin did voice work for "Justice League vs. Teen Titans" and in 2017 he voiced a character for "Justice League Action" and "Teen Titans: The Judas Contract." In 2017, Austin lent his voice to Alex in "The Emoji Movie."

Austin doesn't look at voice work as a backup plan. "An important part of my career is also voice acting in animated content," Austin told Digital Journal, "I've voiced characters in feature films such as 'Rio' and 'The Emoji Movie.' Having a diverse skill set has allowed me to act in different capacities," adding that his advice to new performers is to "cultivate your skills because you'll be able to knock on even more doors."

"There are people that tell me today, in 2021, that they just watched 'Go, Diego, Go!' Of course, I think that's awesome, and that was a character I played in 2004." He told Digital Journal that working on that animated series was a valuable experience that continues to engage with fans new and old. He explained, "The fact that content is so accessible to viewers due to the current digital age is something that's great as a creator and person that loves to connect."

Jake T. Austin's had a brief stint on Dancing with the Stars

Despite the popularity of the long-running dance competition series, "Dancing with the Stars" sometimes has a slight smell of desperation because it seems like a popular stop for actors who are trying to revive their careers. However, Jake T. Austin was one of the youngest contestants on the show when he appeared in Season 23, giving his time on the dance competition a different vibe. Sadly, he was the first star eliminated from Season 23.

As reported by ABC News, Austin told the co-host, "It was so much fun, I had a blast," after learning he had been eliminated, adding, "Learning from Jenna was the opportunity of a lifetime." After the show, Austin chatted with Entertainment Tonight backstage, admitting if he could change anything, "I would have picked slower dances. I think the dances were just so fast, and it was kind of difficult to start with the jive," but Austin added, "It is what it is, you can't go back," with a shrug and a smile.

Austin's first movie after leaving The Fosters met mixed reviews

Jake T. Austin's first live-action film role after leaving "The Fosters" was "The Valley." The film follows a wealthy South Asian family living in Silicon Valley who are trying to understand the suicide of their youngest daughter, Maya (Agneeta Thacker). Austin plays Chris, a young man who went to college with Maya and hooked up with her at a frat party the night before she took her life. 

Unfortunately, the film didn't give Austin the career boost he may have hoped for, as critics gave the film mixed reviews. "The Valley" did not impress The Guardian and The New York Times, although outlets like Common Sense Media and ReelViews had a more positive take on the film. However, these mixed reviews are also represented in the discrepancy between critic and audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes, suggesting the average viewer may have enjoyed the film more than critics. 

The serious subject and adult themes explored in the movie were a departure for Austin, who told Haute Living, "Being a child actor is different than being an actor who is in his 20s, transitioning into adulthood, and I'm just learning that now," as he tries to diversify in different film genres and roles. Austin added, "It's definitely been a learning process to see how I can challenge myself and step outside my comfort zone in roles that may offer different sides of myself than what people are used to."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Jake T. Austin does philanthropic work

Jake T. Austin keeps himself busy with philanthropic work, devoting time to organizations he cares about. "I encourage people to think about causes that are important to them and see how they can get involved," the actor told Hispanic Network. "I've worked with a few different charities and non-profit organizations. I'm not officially an ambassador or endorser, but I've worked with charities such as Hope For Paws in Los Angeles," Austin told Haute Living in 2019.

Austin has also worked with the Boys & Girls Club. "I've done philanthropy on behalf of The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, they operate over 4,000 clubs nationwide and provide after-school programs, homework tutoring, career and life mentoring in their facilities," Austin told AMFM Magazine. Austin has also tried to raise awareness about other organizations that help at-risk youth, telling Hispanic Network, "My Friend's Place is a great organization in Hollywood whose mission is to end youth homelessness."

The actor has also done work with Voto Latino, a non-partisan organization dedicated to educating and encouraging young Latinos to vote. "Voting is a fundamental of our constitutional republic and people, especially young people, should learn about the issues and make their voices heard at the ballot box," Austin told Hispanic Network. He added, "regardless of race, we are Americans. So I think it is great that Voto Latino is increasing awareness about the importance and the process of voting."

Jake T. Austin rescued a dog from the streets of Los Angeles

When Jake T. Austin was 10, he starred with Emma Roberts in "Hotel for Dogs," a film about siblings who turn their home into a dog rescue without their parents knowing. Playing characters with a deep affinity for animals became a theme from Austin early in his career, and that interest became an important part of his life. Austin told Haute Living, "I played the voice of Diego on 'Go, Diego, Go!,' which is a popular children's show on Nick Jr., and ironically the character saves animals every episode, so that kind of instilled that in me at a young age. I think playing that character definitely conditioned me to be so loving towards animals." 

In 2019, Austin found a dog on the streets of LA without a collar. The animal had no chip, and no one responded to the fliers he posted in the neighborhood, so he adopted the dog. Austin told Haute Living taking care of the dog has "been an amazing transition for me — even though I'm not currently on a show or movie right now, to be living life and taking things one day at a time and experiencing life's offerings is really nice." The actor added, "I'm a huge animal lover, so I would definitely love to work with more animal rights groups in the future and to join any conservation efforts to help save animals."

Jake T. Austin wants to move into writing, directing, and producing

Although Jake T. Austin is always hustling for the next acting role, he is also interested in branching out within the entertainment industry into writing, directing, and producing. "I've always loved reading books, and I recently read an autobiography that was published independently, and I think it would make a great movie. One of my goals is to develop the novel into a movie and I would act in it as well," Austin told AMFM Magazine

When contemplating what he would do with his life if he wasn't an actor, Austin said he had contemplated gaining new skills and trying another career. However, he also admitted, "I don't see myself doing it. I truly see myself involved in the storytelling and creative process in filmmaking," the actor told A Book Of during an interview just after turning 25.

"I think this year is the year for me to conquer some long-term goals that I've always had, such as directing and producing my first film and acting in something that I've written," Austin told A Book Of, adding, "This is a huge goal that I've set out for myself, but I'm eager to climb the mountain and I'm looking forward to sharing my message through film. I have so many stories that I want to tell and would like to share with the world," and he wants to share these stories through filmmaking.

Jake T. Austin's latest movie came out during the pandemic

The pandemic had an enormous effect on the entertainment industry, from filming delays to postponed theatrical releases. "Of course, COVID has changed many plans people had for 2020," Jake T. Austin told Digital Journal, "I've had lots of Zoom meetings about different acting projects, so I hope to continue those conversations in 2021 and that cameras will roll on those shows and movies this year."

The pandemic directly affected one project Austin had already filmed when the release date of "Adverse" was pushed back from September 2020 to 2021. That  and is set in present-day Los Angeles," Austin told Digital Journal that the film, which also stars Mickey Rourke and Sean Astin, "tells the story of a ride-share gone wrong and how addiction and desperation can drive people to do unimaginable things." Austin told the Hispanic Network, "Prior to doing this movie, I didn't especially think about the ripple effect that addiction has on the people around the addict."

Austin told Flaunt he wants to do more projects like "Adverse" in the future, saying, "The subject matter is a little bit heavier, a little bit darker," Austin added, "I just think there's more depth in this role than some of the roles that I've played in the past." The film received positive scores on Rotten Tomatoes with critics and audiences and has an excellent cast, which suggests this movie could be the career boost Austin has been looking for.

Austin has several upcoming projects

"I always think it's important to keep myself busy and occupy my time with things that keep me challenged," Jake T. Austin told Haute Living, adding, "Even when I'm not acting in a role ... I'm always trying to land the next job." It's clear Austin is motivated to keep making movies and telling stories. "I still feel like I still have so much to prove and so much to overcome in my own life and career," Austin told A Book Of, adding, "This is just a part of the journey and it's been an amazing rollercoaster of a ride so far."

With multiple upcoming projects listed on IMDb, Austin might be one meaty role away from launching his successful career as an adult actor. If you asked Ke Huy Quan, the former child actor who made his triumphant acting come back in "Everything Everywhere All At Once," he would probably tell you it only takes one role to turn a forgotten child star into an Oscar winner.

Austin has a good perspective on success. "I can tell you what I don't think it is. In the digital age, people can get caught up in how many followers they have, their amount of subscribers on YouTube, or the numbers they see when they log into their bank account," Austin told Digital Journal. "I think about 'success' as being 'centric': what's in the heart of the person using the word."