Remember little Madison De La Garza? The girl who played Eva Longoria’s on-screen daughter, spoiled Juanita Solis on Desperate Housewives? Not only that, but she’s the half-sister of pop star Demi Lovato, and her big sister would often come to her defense when she was bullied about her weight by online trolls.
But De La Garza was just six years old when she started on Desperate Housewives, and she’s grown up a lot since. So let’s take a look at what’s happened in her life since the show finished, the changes she’s undergone and how she feels about the bullies now.
Madison Rose De La Garza came into the world in December 2001, a few days after Christmas, to parents Eddie and Dianna. Mom Dianna already had two children from a previous marriage when Madison was born: Dallas and Demi Lovato.
And, fortunately, De La Garza grew up close to her siblings. In fact, even though they only shared a mother rather than both parents, they all called themselves “sisters” – and still do. And Demi Lovato may have even led the way for her little sis, too, given that she kick-started her acting career at the tender age of one in the children’s series Barney & Friends.
De La Garza, however, soon followed in her big sister’s footsteps. Aged just six, she was cast in the role of Juanita Solis, daughter to Eva Longoria’s Gabrielle, on the hit ABC show Desperate Housewives. It was a big step for a young girl.
Furthermore, she went on to appear alongside Demi on the Disney Channel series Sonny with a Chance, starring as a younger version of Sonny Munroe – the part played by her sister. In fact, De La Garza was doing very well as a child actress; behind the scenes, though, there was a darker side to her success.
Specifically, and from an incredibly young age, she began receiving online cruel comments online regarding her weight and looks. She was called “fat,” “obese” and much worse. “Madison needs to go hang with the other Disney hideous younger siblings and gtfo of my eyesight,” read one particularly cruel comment.
Demi, however, sprang to her sister’s defense on Twitter. “My little sister is BEAUTIFUL… I can handle discrimination and “haters” on me. But BACK OFF my little sister,” she wrote. Later, she added, “You have NO right to bad-mouth a 7-year-old little girl who is just living her dream.”
Yet although having a both famous and devoted sister was undoubtedly a great thing for De La Garza, her childhood didn’t necessarily get easier. For example, when rumors spread in 2010 that she was “enemies” with her Camp Rock 2 co-star Frankie Jonas, people once again posted abuse about her.
And unfortunately there was soon to be another struggle in De La Garza’s young life – this time, involving the person who was supporting her the most. Demi was suffering badly from problems with mental health, an eating disorder, drug abuse and self-harming. And just like her younger sister, she had also been badly bullied. In 2010, then, Demi quit the tour she was doing with the Jonas Brothers and entered rehab.
What’s more, her younger sister was a huge factor in Demi deciding to finally get help. In particualar, her mother had called an intervention and told Demi that if she didn’t get off drugs, she would have to stay away from De La Garza for the little girl’s own safety. This motivated Demi to get clean – and she remains so to this day.
With Demi recovering, then, the worst was behind De La Garza and her family. And she continued to act on Desperate Housewives, right up until its finale on May 13, 2012. By the time the show had finished, in fact, Juanita had been made a main role, and De La Garza had starred in over 60 episodes as a result.
After Desperate Housewives, then, she was cast on the CBS show Bad Teacher, based around the hit Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz film of the same name. By now she was 11, and her looks were changing fast. She was also racking up plenty of Twitter followers.
In 2014, meanwhile, De La Garza could also be seen appearing in YouTube and Vine videos with her famous sister and her friend Collins Key. Unfortunately, this had a downside, too. Noticing that De La Garza’s spine was curved due to scoliosis, viewers began picking on her again.
Fortunately, though, the ever-faithful Demi once again jumped into action to defend her sister. “Demi freaked and direct-messaged people to yell at [the bullies], and she tweeted at her followers to stand up for me,” Madison said to Seventeen in 2015. “When people hate on me, she can’t really hold back.”
However, since she was now 13, De La Garza was in a position to start standing up for herself. What’s more, she wanted to let the world know what it had been like being cyberbullied as a six-year-old. In 2015, then, she wrote an article for Latina magazine detailing the abuse she’d suffered.
“Imagine being called ‘fat,’ ‘ugly,’ or even ‘slut’ by someone you’ve never even met,” she wrote. “I had watched how easy it was for my older sister, Demi Lovato, to make someone’s day with just a simple tweet, and I’d thought, ‘Maybe I can do that too!’ It didn’t quite work out that way.”
She went on to say that her sister Demi had helped her a lot, but that, “at 13 years old, I still feel just as hurt.” More heartwarmingly, though, she concluded with a positive message for victims of body-shaming, “You are the only person who has to love you. After all, you only get one body – other people’s opinions shouldn’t interfere with the love you have for it.”
These days, then, De La Garza looks a lot like Demi; she could practically be her twin. And the two sisters remain very close. “When Demi is home, our relationship is just like any sisters’,” she told Seventeen. “We get froyo and watch the ID channel – we’re obsessed – and we talk about anything and everything. I know I can trust her with it all.”
Meanwhile, Demi also continues to support her younger sis. “I tell Madison to call me as much as possible,” she revealed to Seventeen. “I want her to come to me with things. I just let her know that I’m always there for her, whether I’m on the other side of the world or I’m next door.” And they’re constantly tweeting each other, too.
Finally, then, things are looking good for De La Garza. Most recently, in fact, she’s been doing voice work for the Día de los Muertos-themed cartoon series Muertoons, appeared in the 2016 movie Caged No More and made a YouTube show called Haunt Hunters. And while she may only be 14, she’s already making a mark; one day, moreover, she might just well be as famous as her big sister.