Of all the directions the career of a child actor could have gone in — movie stardom, tabloid fame, drug problems or downward spirals — Candace Cameron Bure's was perhaps the most unlikely: she quit. The decision wasn't immediate; for a year or two after the end of Full House, the show that made her a household name and a celebrity at age 11, the actress starred in a handful of TV movies and guested on a couple shows. Yet for nearly 10 years, starting in 1997, Cameron Bure virtually disappeared from Hollywood.
But if you assume that absence meant she was just counting her Full House checks and blowing off steam, you couldn't have been more wrong. Cameron Bure may not have been acting, but that's only because she was busy doing practically everything else.
"The question I get asked the most, as do so many other working moms out there, is how do you manage to balance it all?" Cameron Bure says in an interview with Bustle. "Being a mom and a wife and working and doing all the other things that are important to your life... it's the biggest question that is asked of me."
Ironically, the constant inquiries prompted Cameron Bure to add yet another item to her resume — author. In 2011, the actress, speaker, and mom of three published Reshaping It All: Motivation for Physical and Spiritual Fitness, a memoir/self-help book that focused on her tumultuous relationship with food and dieting. Reshaping It All became a New York Times bestseller, and its success led her to write a follow-up: Balancing It All: My Story of Juggling Priorities and Purpose, to be published in January.
"This one's definitely more autobiographical than Reshaping It All was," she says. "This is my life, my life story... I go through my childhood and what was unique to my situation growing up."
As anyone who grew up watching Cameron Bure's D.J. Tanner mature over eight seasons of Full House knows, the actress's early life certainly was far from ordinary. Yet it's the fact that Cameron Bure's circumstances were, and are, different than most people's that made her want to write Balancing It All in the first place.
"There's not a 10 step program," she says. "What works for one person doesn't work for everyone... none of our lives look the same, so to write in a way that's just 'here's how you do it, here's what you need to do' doesn't work for anyone."
The lack of preaching may be the biggest difference between the two stages of Cameron Bure's career. Perhaps the most defining quality of Full House was its episode-ending life lessons, ranging from "it's okay to be different" to "a hug can solve everything."
"The whole show was wrapped up in 30 minutes with a bow on top," she says.
Still, there's much to be said for the series' commitment to morality.
Says the actress, "I was really happy they tackled difficult topics, because those were the relatable moments and the struggles that teens go through all the time."
In one of the most memorable Full House episodes, Cameron Bure's D.J., then 13, decides to do some dangerous dieting for a few days in order to look good at a friend's pool party. She refuses lunch, feeds dinner to the family dog, and, in the episode's climatic scene, almost blacks out while on the elliptical. Like all Full House episodes, "Shape Up" ends with a valuable life lesson — how you look on the inside matters most — but it's garnered special fame over the years for being one of the series' most classic "crisis in a day" episodes.
"I remember being approached before they wrote that episode, asking me if I would be comfortable enough and confident enough to have that be the topic of an episode," Cameron Bure recalls. "It was one of those topics that at the time was very sensitive."
While the actress okay-ed the plotline, she understood the oddity of having her fictional self act out issues that were also present in her real life.
"Of course, that [weight] was a little bit of a struggle in my own life," she says. "I didn't have a bad body image, but when you're always standing next to someone that is a whole lot thinner than you and you're not the thinnest person in the room, even if you're perfectly healthy, it's always a sensitive subject."
Still, she says, she was "happy being the role model that I could."
Not all of D.J.'s plotlines were so heavy-handed, though; some of them even invoked envy in many of the show's fans. For much of season eight, the high school graduate, having just broken up with longtime boyfriend Steve, is caught in a love triangle between cute, rich Nelson and cute, cool Viper — not exactly the hardest acting Cameron Bure's ever had to do, one imagines. Of her character's three love interests, Cameron Bure knows who she'd pick.
"Oh, hands down, I'd go with Steve," she says. "He was her longtime friend, the longest boyfriend D.J. had on the show."
Happily, D.J. and Steve reunited in the show's series finale. Full House fans might never find out what happened to the duo all these years later, but they can at least take comfort in knowing that the actors behind the characters are still in close contact. Along with the rest of their Full House castmates (well, mostly — no Olsen twins were in sight), Cameron Bure and Scott Weinger got together last year to celebrate the series' 25th anniversary. Fans rejoiced at the gathering, and the many mini-reunions held since have thrilled them even more.
"You know, we hang out all the time, so it’s not a big deal to us," Cameron Bure says. "I mean, we literally see each other all the time... it’s just not photographed every time that we’re together. We’ve been a close bunch for 25 years."
Still, fans can't help wondering if all the Full House nostalgia this past year was hinting at a bigger reunion to come — like a movie.
"I’ve always said I’d always be up for anything Full House related."
We're all in support of seeing our favorite TV family on the big screen, but it's hard to imagine that Cameron Bure would even have the time to add anything that major to her schedule. In addition to promoting Balancing It All, the actress, who just last year finished up a starring role on the now-cancelled Make It Or Break It, is busy raising her kids, working with charities, and starring in a handful of TV movies and films set for release later this year and next. She also has plans to continue her work promoting her passions, both lifestyle and religious.
"I've been speaking at women's conferences for about ten years," Cameron-Bure says. "I think an open dialogue and an open discussion with women is so helpful... just learning each other's trade secrets and seeing what can help one another."
As for her faith — she's a devout Christian — the actress travels the country to share her beliefs.
"It's the biggest part of my life," she says.
For a celebrity, advocating one's religion is a bold, possibly detrimental choice, considering the subject's controversial nature. Yet it's a risk she's willing to take.
"[My religion] is important enough for me to be vulnerable enough to have people dislike me for it," she says. "It's hard to have to put that in a closet somewhere. I couldn't live my life that way."
Regardless of how it's viewed by the public, there's no doubt that Cameron Bure's faith sets her apart from other celebrities. It also acts as support for Balancing It All's main message — that our lives are supposed to be different than one another's.
"We're all unique and different and we all have different circumstances and situations," Cameron Bure told us. "I wanted to come from the perspective of writing on my own life and my teachable moments, or even the things that didn't work in my life... and let the reader put their own spin or situation in place of mine."
"Because," she emphasizes, "none of our lives are the same." Now that sounds like a sentiment the Tanner family could get behind.
Images: ABC; AndreaBarber/Twitter