Candace Cameron got bullied for playing D.J. Tanner
The child star dismissed the bullies and became a role model to thousands of girls.
There’s a sweet episode of Full House called "Ol’ Brown Eyes" in the fourth season where dad Danny Tanner gets jealous when his oldest daughter DJ excludes him and asks Jesse and Joey for help putting on a fundraiser.
It’s a funny Bob Saget moment because we get to see him attempting to appear as cool as Uncle Jesse, donning a leather jacket and performing a song that ultimately embarrasses, rather than impresses, DJ.
Playing DJ on Full House was Candace Cameron, a child star who rose to fame after her brother Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains) got an agent who told his sister she should give acting a try, too.
Prior to Full House, Candace had guest starred on Eighties shows like St. Elsewhere, Punky Brewster and T.J. Hooker.
But it wasn’t until she got cast to play DJ Tanner in 1987 that she started acting full-time as a pre-teen.
From that point on, Candace had to do what every child star has to do: juggle schooling with her TV show’s filming schedule.
For Candace, unlike many child stars, she never fully gave up going to her regular school, always making it to the first class of the day through the entire school year.
"That way, I can keep in touch with the school and my friends, and it won’t be a big shock to me when I go back," Candace explained the logic to The Kilgore News in 1990.
And then when Full House shooting ended in March, she seamlessly reverted to going to public school full-time.
"And then school ends the end of June, but we start up work the second week of July," Candace said. "So, I only get a week or two of nothing."
You would think this practice of staying in school would have made her transition from regular kid passing by in the hallway to sudden student celebrity a little bit smoother, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
In 1989, Candace told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that after she won the part of DJ, "I had some problems at school. Some kids would pull my hair and wrote bad stuff on my locker."
Only 13 years old at the time, Candace was already more mature than her years and took the bullying in stride. She dismissed the bullying as a phase that would pass.
"Because I’m in an adult world, I have a little older point of view of things than some of my friends," Candace said. "Last year, it was kind of funny, because my friends kept telling me, ‘You sound like my mom.’"
As Candace grew up on the set of Full House, blossoming from a pre-teen into a young lady, she quickly turned from a character that other kids identified with into a character many young girls across the world admired.
By the time she was 18, Candace’s public appearances would draw crowds of 10,000 or 15,000 kids, mostly young girls like 11-year-old Tiffani, who told the Edmonton Journal in 1994 that she admired Candace because "She’s pretty."
Little 12-year-old Valerie, who wouldn’t wash her hands after shaking Candace’s, insisted, "She’s really cool."
Some of her young fans even managed to see the depth of Candace’s seasoned maturity, like 12-year-old Sarah, who said, "she really cares for people."
For Candace, appearing on Full House was fun because she liked how comedians like Bob Saget and Dave Coulier cracked jokes all the time.
In episodes, her character’s relationship with TV dad Danny is often the most poignant, with her playing the first-born daughter who makes mistakes and him playing the single dad trying to help his daughter avoid repeating them without a maternal presence.
For Candace, this was a role reversal from what she was used to as the youngest of four siblings at home.
Again displaying wisdom beyond her years, she said she felt playing DJ on Full House helped her better understand her own parents at her full house back home.
"It’s kind of neat being able to play both roles – the youngest and the oldest," Candace said. "I can kind of see how my real parents looked at it talking to my older brother or sisters, and now, on the show, they’re doing that to me."