Disney Channel alum DeVore Ledridge found a love for acting at a young age, creating their own TV shows and commercials with friends. Now, DeVore’s acting is just one part of a career that also includes being a digital creator, fashion designer, and human rights activist. We sat down with DeVore to talk about their beginnings in acting, their new line of PROUD apparel with SOUNDOFF, and a forthcoming podcast we’re already obsessed with.
Growing up in Kentucky, DeVore shared that acting and TV never really seemed like a real possibility. “It was actually really, really, really random how it all came to pass,” they said. At-home TV and commercial creations were a big part of DeVore’s free time, but they told us, “I never thought it was something I could do professionally.” It wasn’t until a friend of DeVore’s mom pointed them in the direction of a local modeling and acting agency when DeVore was 12 years old which later lead to attending an International Model and Talent Association (IMTA) convention in Los Angeles that things started to happen.
When they were 14, DeVore booked Bizaardvark, a Disney Channel comedy series that ran for three seasons. “When I finally booked Bizaardvark, I literally could not believe it. I could not believe it, and that was when I really had my first acting experience.” Within their first few days of working on Bizaardvark, DeVore knew that acting was what they wanted to do for the rest of their life. “Dipping my toes in the water, I just wanted to jump right in.”
In acting, DeVore found many passions from comedy (more on that later) to the unique “euphoric” feeling of taking on a new role—”It’s like you quite literally stepped into someone else’s shoes and are living their life experiences, and for me, that’s one of the absolutely coolest things possible and I just keep chasing that feeling”—to advocating for underrepresented communities in media an in everyday conversation and action. DeVore a non-binary actor still exploring their identity at the time was facing their own struggles. “I think it also has a lot do with my childhood and my upbringing and how it just wasn’t always the most pleasant growing up in Kentucky and being queer,” they said of how acting made them feel in the beginning. “It was an escape for me to be another person for a while and step out of my shoes and let go of my problems for the moment.”
DeVore’s growing career wouldn’t only help them sort through those feelings and difficulties, though. As they grew their platform, they knew what they wanted to use it for. Recognizing trends in the entertainment industry and the world overall that favored specific people and identities, DeVore wanted to speak up, have uncomfortable conversations, and advocate for diversity and inclusion. “Whenever I really got a platform, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just posting things that were convenient and comfortable and, like, funny and, you know, silly. I wanted to make sure that there was an even balance of me advocating for minorities, and I wanted to make sure that I acknowledge, you know, that I do have privileges as a creator.”
Looking at DeVore’s social media platforms from Instagram to TikTok, their dedication to education and advocacy is obvious. Discussing major issues, sharing their own experiences with mental illness, the acting world, and gender identity, they are trying to inform and create a community along the way. “I’ve had a lot of followers tell me they’ve found great internet friends and great support systems through my account which is all I could ever ask for.”
One of DeVore’s most recent advocacy initiatives is also a collaboration with SOUNDOFF, the Chicago-based streetwear fashion brand that uses its genderneutral designs to advocate for and support causes and movements. SOUNDOFF x DeVore is a Pride collection that DeVore says they wanted to make sure was “advocating as well as being cute and stylish.”
Featuring staple SOUNDOFF pieces including T-shirts, hoodies, and tote bags as well as custom velcro patches, SOUNDOFF x DeVore is centered around the word “PROUD” in which the solid O can be covered with one of the six patches that cleverly represent a variety of identities. The proceeds from the collection go to OutRight Action to support queer communities which often face homelessness, lack of medical care, and community support. “For me, it was just a really huge deal because it was very important to me to [donate the proceeds],” DeVore told us, “so when [OutRight Action] did say they wanted to partner with me, it just made the whole collection so much more special.”
The patches aren’t simple pride flags, DeVore and SOUNDOFF worked to create something unique and layered with meaning. Along with phrases like “Where would we be without Marsha P?” (a nod to the work of activist Marsha P. Johnson at The Stonewall Inn and DeVore’s favorite patch), the patches are a groovy take on representation. Looking at pins from Pride protests in the 1970s and 80s, DeVore ended up narrowing the look down to a 70s aesthetic. Taking this inspiration, the design team at SOUNDOFF replaced the 70s greens, browns, and oranges with the colors from the pride flags that each patch represents. “Anything that has a retro feel, you know we eat that stuff up,” DeVore laughed, explaining the design process.
SOUNDOFF x DeVore is officially available now on SOUNDOFFdesign.com. “The entire collection turned out a million times better than I could have ever hoped for,” DeVore shared.
DeVore’s advocacy continues outside of this collection. Returning to acting, DeVore and the industry have changed since their Bizaardvark days, and they have noticed that the feedback on the changes in their appearance and identity have not necessarily been positive. There is often typecasting for queer identities which can be really limiting for queer actors like DeVore. They are taking things slow, but they hope to see diversity in casting continue to develop so that identity and appearance aren’t just what a casting director thinks a specific type of person looks like but a diverse representation of all kinds of communities. “I’m definitely not going to be compromising my identity for opportunities,” they shared. “We are in a time where the industry is changing, and hopefully we’ll get to a point where there’s no ‘You have to look a certain way even if you’re a part of this minority group’ and everybody will get the representation that they deserve.”
As DeVore reenters the acting world, they’re also pushing to develop their comedy skills. “I am a huge comedy nerd.” DeVore shared that Bizaardvark was so bizarre it was like they were doing sketches, and working on a show like that really showed DeVore what they want to do in the industry. “I would never toot my own horn, but I do feel like, in comparison to other styles of acting, comedy is my strong suit, and it’s what I love to do.”
Part of that development is pushing themself to go to improv classes. In previous acting classes, improv was something they avoided, finding an excuse to leave the room until the improv portion of the class was over. Now DeVore wants to push themself to see how far they can go and how much they can do with acting. “There’s so many different things you can do. There’s so many styles of acting, and I definitely don’t want to be a one-trick pony,” they said. We’re excited to share that DeVore has signed up for improv classes! They want to be in comedy, and more than that, they see that comedy is a male-dominated space and wants to see more women and queer people in that space.
Off-screen, DeVore is working on another exciting project that is focused on community and support. Their forthcoming podcast DeVore Unscripted is a submission-based podcast where their fans can send in their experiences, questions, or concerns about the industry, queer experiences, and mental health. DeVore will respond to those submissions with their thoughts and advice. DeVore emphasizes that they are not a licensed therapist. What they want to do is create a supportive conversation space.
“For me growing up, I had so many questions that I needed advice on, but I didn’t really have that many people in my direct circle or community to answer those questions for me,” DeVore shared, “and so for me now, being an older person who wants to support our younger queer generation, I feel like it has—I mean, this is going to sound cheesy—but it’s made by heart so full and so warm and fuzzy because it’s been a way that I’ve been able to directly engage with my fans and my audience.”
“It’s probably one of my favorite projects that I’ve ever done,” said of the podcast. “It’s just been overall such a great great experience.”