While it would be easy to label Sabrina Carpenter as Disney Channel's new "It" girl, it's safe to say the happy-go-lucky teen doesn't care about labels. The "Girl Meets World" star has been described as an old soul -- a trait she references in her hit single "Eyes Wide Open" -- and it's easy to see why.
At just 16 years old, Carpenter is a successful and extremely talented young woman with an inspiring view of the world and her place in it.
"I’ve never paid too much attention to what other people have said or to what other people have tried to make me be," Carpenter told MTV News. "I’ve always just tried to be myself, which is such a weird thing to say. As a teenage girl, it’s like, who are you? That's what you ask yourself every single day. I just try to live in the moment. I might not know who I was yesterday or who I’m going to be tomorrow, but I know who I am right now."
The teen superstar entered the House of Mouse at just 13 years old, when she landed the role of Maya on the Disney Channel's highly anticipated series "Girl Meets World." Growing up on the Disney Channel can be rough. Former Disney stars Raven-Symone, Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato have all opened up about the pressure they felt to be the perfect role models for teen girls. Cyrus said her role as pop superstar Hannah Montana gave her "body dysmorphia" and she suffered from bouts of anxiety and depression after the show wrapped in 2011.
However, as Riley's rebellious, free-spirited best friend Maya Hart, Carpenter says she's never felt much pressure to be a role model to her young fans.
"I’m going to make the right choices for myself, and I think that if I’m making these choices, they’re good enough choices for people to follow along, if they wanted to," she said. "The number one priority in life is to take care of yourself and make sure you’re happy. My goal is to make people happy, and that’s basically what we do [on 'Girl Meets World']."
“My principle is if you’re not helping yourself be a happier person, then why do it?" she added. "And if you love it, you call it work."
More importantly, the teen credits an awesome group of friends and family with keeping her grounded and in the moment.
"I’m more confident in who I am," she said. "This business, especially, can be tricky to keep a straight head on, but through these past couple years, I’ve found amazing people who support me and I know I can go to them if I need help. That’s the most important thing."
Her girl power squad also includes her "Girl Meets World" costar -- and onscreen BFF -- Rowan Blanchard, who made headlines this past week for her powerful essay on intersectional feminism.
"It’s really hard to play best friends with someone and not be best friends with them, especially when it’s such a close relationship like those two have -- they’re basically sisters," Carpenter said. "Because of that, we've been able to become really close friends."
The singer-songwriter is currently in the process of making her second album, a followup to her catchy pop debut, "Eyes Wide Open." Her most recent single, the titular track on her album, served as a sort of departure for Carpenter.
"I just started the whole process of working on my second album," she said. "I’m very excited with the direction. Obviously, when you’re 13, which is when I started making the first album, it’s so hard to limit to yourself what you have to be and the genre you want to be in, but now I’ve been able to grow into the artist I want to become."
"'Eyes Wide Open' was the last single, and it’s definitely more mature than 'Can’t Blame A Girl For Trying,'" she added. "It goes on a direction that inspiring, yet down to earth. I think people will be able to relate to it."
A devout Swiftie, Carpenter is channeling her inner Taylor Swift and writing constantly, drawing inspiration from everything -- everyday monotony, relationships, friendships, heartbreak, and even her deepest insecurities. "I finished the album when I was 15, and it came out when I was 16, and that’s a big change -- those years are where you change and grow the most."
Those are also the years, as a teen girl, when you're saddled with relentless expectations -- expectations on who you should be, how you should act, and what you should look like. But Carpenter lives by her own, body-positive philosophy.
"Everybody has their own story -- it's who you are. If I wasn’t five-foot, I wouldn’t be who I am!" she said. "My size is a huge part of me. You just have to appreciate those kinds of things. So I wasn't born with long legs -- who cares. You just have to embrace it. Being body positive is really important to your overall happiness. It’s hard to see someone with a 'perfect' body and be like, 'Why can’t I be like her?' But that person was born to be who she is, and you're born to be who you are."
Simply put, it all starts with loving yourself and the quirks that make you, well, you. And if you do encounter a hater every once in a while, just laugh it off.
"Laugh at them because they're really funny!" Carpenter said. "I go through my comments sometimes and I’ll just take snapshots of the terrible ones and send them to my friends. I know it's horrible, but they actually make me laugh. They make my day."
"If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all," she added. "And if you do have to say it, make it really funny so I can screenshot it and save it for later."