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HomeUncategorizedWith Her Politically-Charged “Breakfast” Video, Dove Cameron Is Making Her Voice Heard

With Her Politically-Charged “Breakfast” Video, Dove Cameron Is Making Her Voice Heard

At the beginning of Dove Cameron’s new music video for “Breakfast,” the second single from her upcoming debut album, the 26-year-old actor and musician is getting ready for work. She pulls up the collar of her crisp white shirt, loops on her tie, and slips into an ‘80s power blazer before settling down to read the newspaper over her morning coffee. Her husband arrives with a cooked breakfast, which she knocks out of his hands, before looking down at him on the floor with a withering stare. “So you wanna talk about power?” Cameron sings in a purposefully sickly sweet cadence. “Let me show you power.”


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At this, electric guitars erupt, and the video’s playfully warped take on traditional gender roles becomes clear. For while Cameron is perhaps best known for her work as a Disney star, in the likes of Liv and Maddie and the hit Descendants film series—and more recently, for roles in the Apple TV+ musical series Schmigadoon! and B.J. Novak’s comedy thriller Vengeance—over the past few years, she has stepped out of her shell, revealing a side of herself that is more complex, frank, and politically engaged.

The shift began after Cameron came out as queer in 2020, but it reached its truest expression yet with the release of her single “Boyfriend” earlier this year, a viral hit on TikTok for its thunderous bassline and razor-sharp lyrics about hoping to poach a girl from her boyfriend. “I wrote ‘Breakfast’ around the same time I wrote ‘Boyfriend,’ at a time when I was feeling incredibly disempowered as a young woman,” Cameron says. “I was just expressing my feelings of being discounted or cajoled or underestimated, and thinking, What the fuck is this power dynamic between men and women that constantly leaves women getting the shitty end of the stick?”

Earlier this summer, Cameron had an entirely different video for “Breakfast” in the can when the news about the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade broke. Like so many others, she felt hopeless and frustrated at first, but after talking to other women in her community (and feeling encouraged by her fans’ interpretation of the song as an ode to female autonomy, with its deliciously ruthless lyric, “I eat boys like you for breakfast, one by one hung on my necklace”) she felt galvanized to reinvent the video as a statement about the oppressive impact of traditional gender roles on young women today.

Courtesy of Columbia Records

And while the video’s deliberately kitschy, retro visuals—Cameron was adamant that it should still feel a little camp—bring a touch of levity, its political message is clear. (And it’s underlined by the call to action at the end of the video, asking viewers to join Cameron in donating to four organizations of her choice, all working to empower voters or defend women’s rights: Supermajority, the National Network of Abortion Funds, Emily’s List, and Headcount.) Still, Cameron’s ferocity is always undercut by a sense of humor. “I kind of have to be careful, because I can’t always write songs about being angry at men,” she says, laughing. “But hey, I’m gonna do it for a while!”

Here, Cameron talks to Vogue about the unexpected success of her two new singles, how the visual world for “Breakfast” came to be, and why writing music has been an important emotional outlet during a challenging time.

Vogue: At what point in the writing process for your new album did you get to “Breakfast,” and were there any specific experiences that inspired it?

Dove Cameron: The whole impetus for “Breakfast” was that I was in a situation with this guy who was constantly speaking down to me. He thought it was kind of sexy to belittle me and make me this sort of helpless being, because then it shines on him. He was very charismatic and intelligent, but also egotistical. And eventually, I was like, Wow, I really have to stop dating people like this. I’m attracted to their power, and their charisma, and all these things, but they don’t see me at all, and they definitely don’t see me as their equal. They only see me for what I highlight or bring out in them. I found that interesting as a subject because we want to hear about romance, we want to hear about heartbreak, and we want to hear women sing about the complexities of their pain. And I absolutely do too. I find that incredibly powerful, but I do think that there’s a place in pop music for anger.

At what point did you begin to see the song as a vehicle for your political convictions?

I think over the period since we finished that song, my anger as a young woman has only risen and I started to see some people using the song as their sort of emotional outlet with everything going on politically. And that was so interesting for me as an artist, to see it take on a different life. I think that was the beginning of me starting to think about a video that made a larger statement than just a pretty pop video. I think it’s really important that as artists, we use whatever medium we have to hopefully make some sort of small impact. I think especially now more than ever, when people—especially young people—are on the internet and looking to artists as their sort of moral north star, because we feel so close to the people on our screens and we trust them. I was starting to feel very disillusioned with doing anything in my line of work without making an effort to get people angry, get people to vote, remind people that we shouldn’t get comfortable with the current political situation.

When you read about the reversal of Roe v. Wade, was there anything specific about the song you felt made it the right fit to tell your story in the format of a music video?

I think it’s a few things. At the time that the Supreme Court ruling became real, I was up in Vancouver shooting season two of Schmigadoon!, and we were in the middle of making a previous version of the “Breakfast” music video, which we had actually already shot. I watched it, and thought, What the fuck am I doing? I think like every woman in America, I was so heartbroken. And I was writing every day about feeling so furious and disillusioned and enraged and helpless, and that there was nothing that any of us could do. I felt like I was screaming into a void. I think that I let my rage kind of spur me in the right direction eventually, but for the first time in a long time, I felt super defeated, because the time that it will take to make up for what’s going on right now feels insurmountable. But I was thinking about what I could do that would make a larger impact rather than just posting articles and infographics—which I’ve not given up on, by the way, as I do think as much information and education that we can get out there, everything helps. But I also am willing to acknowledge that the best way to get a political message out is almost by hiding it, like hiding vegetables in your kid’s food. So I scrapped the whole video, and started again.

When you first started working on the new video, what were your inspirations visually?

I remember everyone saying, oh, this feels like we’re going back to the 1950s, and that got me thinking about The Stepford Wives and a visual that could illustrate to people that nothing has changed and how fucked up this really is. I was also thinking about Mad Men, which is obviously a triumph, but I actually had to stop watching it as I found it really emotional. So the whole concept of the video with flipping the genders was just to kind of like show that it’s inhumane for one gender to carry the burden of the reproductive conversation. It’s ludicrous, and it’s abusive. It was also really important for me to include the part at the end of the video where we supply the viewer with organizations and education points as a direct call to action. By the end, all the people who are disproportionately affected by this are hopefully going to feel included and impassioned to be able to read up on these four incredible organizations and encourage them to vote. I want democracy to feel available and emotionally friendly, and not scary. I want it to feel like a conversation that isn't so foreign or charged with anger and disempowerment, but charged with passion, and hopefully, we can all work towards feeling like we’re passionately seeking out justice together.

Courtesy of Columbia Records

You mentioned that the song has come to serve as a kind of emotional outlet for your fans and listeners. Does writing a song like this, or making a video like this, feel cathartic for you too?

Absolutely. I don’t think I’m naturally an angry person. I’m very much a communicator. I like to dissolve boundaries, and I like to feel close to people, and I like to be surrounded by a community. I grew up being very much a lover, not a fighter. That being said, I also find that I have a lot of anger and pain and this collective feeling of injustice as a young woman, and songwriting has definitely been an interesting key for me—almost like therapy—where I’ve found out that I actually have a lot of unexpressed anger. I think as women and as members of the LGBTQ+ community, we are not encouraged in the culture to express our anger. Anger is not a trait that is welcomed from us. It goes back to things like telling women to smile, or expecting women to be the ones who are repairing others and being selfless or self-sacrificing. I think I definitely have been someone who has spent my whole life trying to make other people feel comfortable and be what I knew was expected of me. I definitely think a large part of my writing is this sort of horror of discovering that a lot of men don’t have to do that that.

Another aspect of the video I wanted to ask about was the tongue-in-cheek sense of humor that runs through it. Was it important for you to include that alongside the heavier stuff?

Oh my God, absolutely. First of all, I think that life is camp, and I think that’s a huge part of everything that I create. I think that it’s important for things to have a sense of humor, because it shows a sense of self-awareness about what you’re trying to say. Because obviously, at the end of the day, this is a music video, and I’m not saying anything wildly new or revelatory. I’m just trying to use my small platform to make some sort of difference, even if I’m very aware that I’m a pop artist and this is a music video. But there is that great Oscar Wilde quote, that if you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh. I think that you can’t be too heavy-handed with whatever message it is that you’re trying to communicate. I also think that this very feminine Stepford Wife character with her blonde wig and her performative femininity, and this sort of manic energy just heightens the ridiculousness of what we have become so comfortable with, you know? It’s like she's not even a human anymore. It’s a pop music video, so it’s not meant to be heavy. It’s meant to be informative entertainment, hopefully.

Finally, you have so many irons in the fire right now between your acting and music, and you’re constantly moving between these different characters. How do you retain a sense of self when you’re keeping so busy?

That’s something that I am currently trying to figure out myself. [Laughs.] I was writing about this the other day, about the fact that acting requires you to have no identity, whereas music is all about your identity. And when you’re doing both at the same time, you definitely get into a headspace where you’re like, What am I doing? I’m trying to optimize myself constantly to be the best version at all of it that I can be and it’s difficult, but I’m working on it, and there are tools that help. I’m definitely in therapy, and I’ve stopped watching any sort of scripted media for a while. Apart from Veep, which is my safe show. [Laughs.] It’s the best. I’ve proposed to Julia-Louis Dreyfus about 100 times in my head. I pray to her. I love her. But yeah, I need the levity of that. I also watch The Great British Bake Off. I realized I need to watch people doing something other than what I do, and that truly love it. Watching someone cry over a quiche that has deflated or joyous because they finally got the vegan buttercream just right is wonderful. I need to know that there are people who are so passionate about something that I have no idea about, as it reminds me that there’s so more than just what I’m doing. Sometimes I think that this industry is so insular and self-promoting, and I have to find my ways out of that. I’m trying to have a real human life for the first time, which I think is important. But I think I’m doing okay.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.



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