Whatever Happened To Ren From Even Stevens?

The Disney Channel series Even Stevens made up a lot of people's childhoods as they grew up alongside the spunky Louis Stevens, played by famous actor Shia LaBeouf, and the more serious Renee "Ren" Stevens, played by Christy Carlson Romano. With Shia LaBeouf seen on the big screen in major motion picture after major motion picture, it's got people wondering — whatever happened to Ren from Even Stevens?


"I was told that leaving Hollywood right after Even Stevens would ruin my career," the actress wrote in a moving article for Teen Vogue. "In retrospect, it probably did. But in my heart, I was running away from the responsibility of fame and toward a glamorized fantasy of adolescence."

Though the actress took some time out of the spotlight, Carlson Romano's career was definitely not ruined. She has actually been a very busy woman. This is what has happened to the actress who played Ren in Even Stevens.

How the actress who played Ren from Even Stevens got her start

While most 6-year-olds are focused on school and on playing with their friends, Christy Carlson Romano was learning the ins and outs of the entertainment business. "I used to stand up and sing at family reunions," she told Connecticut Style, and that's when her family knew the actress who'd become known as Ren from Even Stevens was born to perform. "My mom saw that anytime I would go ice skating, figure skating, any kind of sport that I would do, I'd end up singing and performing, so my family said, 'Okay, we need to take her to the city.'"


At age 6, she landed her first acting role in the play Annie. Two years later, Carlson Romano began traveling with her mother as her manager to perform in shows all across the country. Being just a kid at the time, having her mother by her side took a lot of pressure off the young performer. "Having my mom as my teammate was a lot easier than having an agent and a manager and a publicist," the actress told Romper. However, little did she know, her start into the entertainment business was just beginning to take off.

Christy Carlson Romano kicked off her career as Ren from Even Stevens

In 2000, Christy Carlson Romano received her breakout role as Ren in the popular Disney Channel show Even Stevens. "Ren was very similar to me," she told Romper. And for a good reason!

The moment she and co-star Shia LaBeouf, who played her younger brother in the show, walked into the television executives' offices, it was as if Even Stevens was made just for them. Carlson Romano told PerezTV that LaBeouf showed up on the first day wearing "baggy UFO pants or something," and she noted, "I had on a Ralph Lauren blazer, matching pants, a turtleneck, and like, you know, lip gloss, and right in the room, that was it. That was the show. We walked in, and the executives were just like, 'Done.'"


Though the Disney series only lasted three seasons, Carlson Romano knows how rare roles like Ren from Even Stevens come around and is grateful that it propelled her entertainment career forward, even while she was just a teenager trying to figure her own life out. "It's like I was growing up with her on the show and [dealing with] a lot of the moral dilemmas that she was having," she explained to Romper.

The actress behind Ren from Even Stevens voiced Kim Possible

After landing the role of Ren from Even Stevens, Christy Carlson Romano would go on to have another claim to fame. In 2002, she took a step behind the scenes to voice Kim on the Disney Channel cartoon Kim Possible, which follows a teen girl who fights crime between attending school and dealing with the everyday struggles of growing up. However, even though Carlson Romano's character was an iconic kick-butt role model for young girls to look up to, there was much more to Kim than that, as she was breaking stereotypes. "I think what was magical about Kim Possible was that she had a sidekick who was a guy," Carlson Romano told D32, "but he was still really fun and cool." She added, "So guys and girls could watch this together, and they could both enjoy it."


Similar to the strong, independent female role of Ren that Carlson Romano played on Even Stevens, it was important to the actress that she continue to portray characters who young girls could look up to. "I was very proud of it, even from the get-go," she told Romper. "[Kim] was very empowered and she was a leader."

The woman who played Ren from Even Stevens had an identity crisis after leaving the Disney Channel

After working for the Disney Channel, Christy Carlson Romano wanted more than a life of stardom, but it wasn't an easy adjustment for her to go from child actor to regular young adult, as many Disney Channel stars know. "I felt as though I disappeared, and I felt like I was having an identity crisis for a long time," the woman behind Ren from Even Stevens admitted to E! News, "because I was this brand, and I was perfectly fine with that, because it was a really positive role model for young women."


Unfortunately, in order to cope, Carlson Romano struggled with depression and alcohol abuse following her time with the network. "It's not just this glamorous, fun, wild ride," she explained of her television career. "There's things that you have to grow from."   

However, she strived to keep from becoming just another statistic of child actors who struggle throughout the rest of their lives like so many had before her. "I won't be the last actor to tell you the pitfalls of early-onset fame," Carlson Romano wrote in a moving memoir for Teen Vogue. "But if I've learned anything from these experiences, it's that being famous should come second to creating a life that you personally feel fulfilled with."


After playing Ren from Even Stevens, Christy Carlson Romano volunteered to help kid actors

"It's hard for people to understand that oftentimes child actors appear to have an inflated ego to make up for the fact that they have no idea who they really are underneath it all," Christy Carlson Romano wrote in an article published in Teen Vogue. She called it "a defense mechanism that many young people are familiar with."


Following Christy Carlson Romano's struggle with growing from a child actor to an adult, she learned about a youth program through the Actors Fund called Looking Ahead and felt inspired to get involved. The program provides young performers with counseling to help them transition into the future and takes them on various field trips to make their childhood seem more "normal." 

"They come together and really, sort or, have this great bonding experience too, and they really don't talk about their, you know, 'Who's your agent?' or 'What are you wearing to the red carpet?' or whatever," the actress behind Ren from Even Stevens told Comic Mix. "I wish that would have existed when I was around." She added, "It's not easy to be a child actor at all."


The star we know as Ren from Even Stevens was on Broadway

Christy Carlson Romano's lifelong love for performing moved her from television screens to the big Broadway stage. In 2004, she became Belle from another beloved Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast (via Playbill)and she held the role for eight months doing eight shows a week. Then, in 2008, she was a part of Avenue Q, where she had to take part in a month's worth of training to learn to become a puppeteer. "Every time that I get to do a part, I look to challenge myself and to, sort of, broaden my horizons," she told Connecticut Style.


And growing up in Connecticut before making it big in Hollywood, Carlson Romano was happy to be working again on Broadway in New York on a familiar coast. "I'm very blessed to have my family here on the East Coast," the actress known to many as Ren from Even Stevens said. "For me to, kind of, get away from Los Angeles and come back to, kind of, where I belong."

Christy Carlson Romano, aka Ren from Even Stevens, wrote a book

Christy Carlson Romano can check "become an author" off her list. In 2006, she published the novel Grace's Turn, which follows a high school girl with big dreams of becoming a Broadway performer. Sound familiar? "My goal [with Grace's Turn] was to do something different and share my knowledge in a different way," Carlson Romano told After the Show. "Sort of a snapshot/semi-autobiographic take on my experience."


Her experience lending her voice to the star character on Kim Possible may have also set her up for success with her debut novel, as Carlson Romano herself is the one who also reads the audiobook version of her story. "I've been reading a lot of audiobooks recently," she told Comic Mix, adding, "And it's been a lot of fun to get back into that."

Carlson Romano's creative endeavors didn't stop there. "There's so many things I want to do that are surrounding our industry," the actress who played Ren from Even Stevens told After the Show, and indeed, there was much more success in store for her.

The actress who starred as Ren from Even Stevens graduated from college

"The idea of one day having a college life became my greatest fantasy," Christy Carlson Romano divulged in a piece she wrote for Teen Vogue, reflecting on her early acting days. "I would watch teen movies and become intensely jealous of 'normal' kids..."


So, Romano set out to achieve this lifelong dream of hers in the 2000s. "It took me 12 years to finish my degree, but I kept going back," Carlson Romano told Comic Mix. She even obtained her degree from Barnard College in New York City while still maintaining a busy acting career with ABC, as noted on her official website.

"I always thought that I'd come back [to college] sooner," the actress behind Ren from Even Stevens told the Columbia Daily Spectator. "But once you have all these other things that you really want to accomplish, and you're getting paid and making a living, it's not that you don't want to go back to school and further your education, it's that you need to find the time to do it." Luckily, she made the time and stuck to it, achieving a longtime goal.


The star who portrayed Ren from Even Stevens fell in love

While pursuing her college education on the East Coast, Christy Carlson Romano walked away with more than just a degree. She got a husband as well.

While taking a screenwriting class at Barnard College, her classmate Brendan Rooney, who was president of Columbia's Military Veterans organization, happened to be one of her interview subjects for a campus documentary she was creating about veterans. They quickly began dating in 2011, and they got engaged later that same year after he proposed to her during a vacation in Italy, as reported by Us Weekly.  


"In my head, all women are Disney Princesses, so I'm a huge nerd when it comes to magical moments," the former Disney star told The Knot. In order to be able to leave enough time to plan out every detail for their wedding and accommodate their busy schedules, the couple had a two-year engagement before tying the knot in Alberta, Canada. It also gave her time to solidify their wedding date, which Carlson Romano said had to be on New Year's Eve. "We are both huge holiday people," the woman who portrayed Ren from Even Stevens added. "New Year's Eve is a moment where everyone stops and reflects on the blessings they have with those around them."

The woman behind Ren from Even Stevens became a mom

This holiday-loving actress and her husband received a special Christmas miracle named Isabella Victoria in 2016. "I am flabbergasted at the serendipity of having a baby on Christmas. It's our favorite holiday!" Christy Carlson Romano told People when she found out she was expecting. "What a gift we'll have this year. Feeling so blessed and grateful ... and a little nauseous."


Living a majority of her life as such a big role model to young girls everywhere, it's no wonder that the second child of the actress behind Ren from Even Stevens also happens to be a girl for her to raise and empower as well. In February 2019, she and her husband welcomed Sophia Elizabeth into the world. "We are going to raise both our daughters to believe that they can do anything!" the actress told People.

The two young girls have given the former Disney star a completely new outlook on her life. "They have completely changed who I am as a person," Carlson Romano told E! News. "In fact, maybe they didn't change who I was as a person, but they just, kind of, made me a better person."

The star known as Ren from Even Stevens went behind the camera

Thinking back to her time working on the Disney Channel, Christy Carlson Romano told E! News"I knew that there was life outside of Hollywood," adding, "Even though I had this, sort of, toxic fascination with getting out of Hollywood [while on Even Stevens], I knew that it was also something that I wanted to continue doing." She continued, "I knew I had passions, and I knew I wanted to direct." And direct she did. Her film directorial debut would be for a Christmas movie called Christmas All Over Again in 2016.


"It's a throwback to the golden days of Disney Channel that I was a part of, and I'm really excited to be moving in, you know, not moving in that direction only, but also, sort of, broadening my range of things to do in the business," the actress and director told Comic Mix.  

And the movie is a lot more personal to the star, who's still widely known as Ren from Even Stevens, than just as a connection to her old Disney days. Her husband, Brendan Rooney, also happened to be one of the film's writers.

The actress behind Ren from Even Stevens was a part of the Kim Possible reboot

In 2019, Kim Possible got a makeover with the release of a live-action movie. However, the new film needed a redheaded teen to portray the cunning Kim Possible, and the Disney Channel chose actress Sadie Stanley. "Kim Possible is just such an iconic character," Stanley told The Hollywood Reporter. "Everybody knows who she is even if they didn't watch it, and everybody knows the theme song even if they didn't watch it."


However, Disney executives wanted to make sure that Christy Carlson Romano had some sort of connection to the film since she had such a big role making the cartoon a success, so the actress behind Ren from Even Stevens ended up making a cameo. "It's that throwback to some of the original episodes that I could, kind of, be a part of that and feel kind of plugged in and connected," the actress explained on Entertainment Tonight.

Carlson Romano is excited that the show still has a major fanbase and is even more excited that it can reach and inspire even more young girls today. "I think that Kim Possible is timeless," she told the Today show, adding, "I was really proud that Kim Possible could come out and influence a generation."


The actress many know as Ren from Even Stevens has a YouTube Channel

With media constantly evolving, Christy Carlson Romano has evolved right along with it. She decided to take total control over the kind of content she wanted to make and created her own YouTube channel. "Even those who are established are crossing over into making content this way because there's no red tape to cut through, myself included," the actress, who played Ren from Even Stevens, wrote in an article for Teen Vogue, discussing YouTube. She added, "The beauty of the entertainment industry today is that you can create what you want." And she did just that.


In June 2019, Carlson Romano decided to combine her obsessions with cooking and entertainment and released the first episode of her web series called Christy's Kitchen Throwback. "Through these videos, fans will get to see a new side of me where I'm geeking out over kitchenware and cooking themed dishes with everyone from fellow stars of the '90s and aughts to some of today's biggest YouTube personalities," she explained in her Teen Vogue piece.

Her videos have Carlson Romano portraying the best role of hers yet — herself.

Christy Carlson Romano hopes to play Ren from Even Stevens again

With Disney constantly releasing reboot after reboot, such as Raven's Home and Girl Meets World, Christy Carlson Romano is all for reprising the role of Ren from Even Stevens. "I think Disney is doing a really smart job of taking certain things and bringing them back at the right time," she told Shine On Media in 2018. "I would love if they ever wanted to bring me back in Even Stevens!"


In fact, the show's executive producer Sean McNamara divulged in an interview that he was trying to revive the series. Luckily for him, Carlson Romano has the perfect idea for a reboot. Much like Disney's other reboots, her idea takes place far into Ren's future. "My character is now older, and she has two kids," the actress explained to BuzzFeed. "And it's kind of gender-swapped where, like, the Louis is the girl and the Ren is the boy. It's karma for Ren, for sure."

Hopefully, this is something we will see popping up on our television screens very soon.