Disney Channel started Express Yourself in January 2001!!
This series of shorts began airing on the Disney Channel in January 2001 -- long before the 9/11 tragedy. The actors (at this point, only Disney Channel actors and only kid actors) would discuss topics like clothes, music, and the opposite sex. After the 9/11 tragedy, Disney Channel parlayed these spots into a way for actors to talk about their thoughts on the tragedy -- now with adults and actors from shows not on Disney Channel -- like Melissa Joan Hart and Whoopi Goldberg.
There have been about four waves of the Express Yourself shorts (which range in runtimes from 10 seconds to 2 minutes). In January 2001, the first wave came strictly with stars of the shows The Jersey, Even Stevens, and Lizzie McGuire (the brand new series back then.) In fact, the Express Yourself shorts started airing right around the time when Lizzie premiered. The second wave came about a month later featuring slightly older Disney Channel actors from slightly less recent shows like So Weird and The Famous Jett Jackson, as well as actors from Disney Channel Original Movies. There was kind of a mini-wave next where Wave One actors were integrated with Wave Two actors for new spots. (There was also a parody wave with the Zoog characters from Disney Channel's website.) Then Wave Three came after 9/11 in late fall with actors discussing the newfound importance of families and community etc. Another mini-wave came in Spring 2002 with stars of Lizzie McGuire discussing ways to help in their communities. (A short in this same vein but featuring the stars of That's So Raven followed in Spring 2003.) In fall 2002, Wave Four came with actors expressing their thoughts on the tragedy one year later. Also, actors new to existing shows and actors who hadn't been featured before and actors from new shows like That's So Raven have been integrated into Wave Four. Which is where we are now in Summer 2003.
There are also seasonal Express Yourself shorts where the actors discuss their favorite holidays. These can be more a mixed bag and obviously coincide with the holiday they discuss.
I hope this clears things up. Express Yourself was/ is a great series of promotional shorts for the Disney Channel which became a great way for people to share their feelings after the tragedy. But they began airing a good 8 months before the September 11th tragedy.
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