Former Disney star Bella Thorne, made a household name by her role in Shake It Up, has inked an overall deal with Fox Television. The timing is likely no coincidence, since today on FOX, she was unmasked as The Swan on The Masked Singer. While Disney acquired 20th Century Fox's assets in late 2019, this deal does not bring Thorne "home" to the House of Mouse. Rather, she will be working with the Fox network, still owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Thorne's deal means that the actress and producer, who is set to make her directorial debut in 2020 or early 2021 with an as-yet-untitled upcoming thriller, will develop both scripted and unscripted TV for the network.
The focus of her projects will reportedly be on teen-focused fare, which makes sense for the actress, who has also appeared in The Duff and Freeform's Famous in Love. Thorne, who has been in show business virtually since she was born, is said to be looking to create a new voice for Fox with content in the vein of Gossip Girl or Riverdale.
"If I was able to tell my 8-year-old self that 'you're going to sign a development deal with Fox by the time you're 22,' I would just be like, you're lying, no way," Thorne said in an interview with Variety. "I'm honestly so proud and happy and so thankful to the network that they believe in me and they believe in the mindset I have of this generation."
Thorne said that it is no coincidence that she's so young to have the gig, and that Fox is looking to tap into her energy for the projects she is set to launch.
"I think they really want to introduce a young voice for teens," Thorne said. "Considering no writers or producers are 22, really, especially working for a big network like Fox… Right now I’m trying to concentrate on, what is this teen show that will really make teens feel like they are watching a show that their friend wrote, something right up their alley?"
Fox, looking to rebuild after the Disney deal and become more independent, has recently signed a number of name writers and producers to overall deals, including Black Lightning's Mara Brock Akil (wife of showrunner Salim Akil) Jeff Davis, best known for his work on the TV adaptation of the '80s hit Teen Wolf, which ran from 2011-2017.