— As teen-star scandals go, Miley Cyrus’ have been fairly tame. But the 16-year-old, one-girl industry still is acutely aware of the fishbowl she lives in.
“My mistakes are kind of a little bit harder because they are in front of millions and millions of people,” Miley told Natalie Morales live on TODAY Friday during a break from a four-song set on the Plaza that saw tens of thousands show up and sing along despite persistent rain.
“I get to go through that and I get to learn. It’s hard sometimes to smile about it, because half the time, yeah, it does suck to have to go through that. But also it makes you want to try harder the next time when I know that little girls look at me and say I’m their hero.”
Life in public eye
Through three seasons starring on the hit Disney Channel sitcom “Hannah Montana,” a steady stream of chart-topping songs, concert tours in which parents have plunked down up to $2,000 to get their daughters a decent seat, and now, her own clothing line in association with Wal-Mart, Cyrus has been a mainstay in the here today, gone tomorrow world of teen idols.
Still, nearly every move Miley makes is subject to scrutiny. She sparked a furor by disrobing for photographer Annie Leibovitz in Vanity Fair in 2008. Miley’s also shown a penchant for sending out racy photos of herself to friends via her cell phone (photos that inevitably work their way onto the Internet), and has occasionally feuded with fellow Disney Channel teen stars such as Selena Gomez. Her latest brouhaha occurred when she performed her new hit “Party in the USA,” and critics accused her of simulating pole dancing.
But, Miley told Morales, comments from naysayers tend to roll off her back, and she keeps a “judge not, lest you be judged” attitude toward it all.
“Going into this business, I think you just expect it,” she said. “I feel like anyone has to make mistakes, and I think if a lot of people look back at their being a kid, they’re going to realize they’ve done a lot of the same things I have.
“I guess sometimes judgments are unfair, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles!”
Born in the spotlight
Miley’s mature attitude toward the spotlight is probably helped by the fact that she was born it it. Her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, the singer-actor who plays her dad on “Hannah Montana,” virtually created the line-dancing craze with his country hit “Achy Breaky Heart” in 1992. And Miley’s been acting since she was knee-high to a grasshopper. She appeared on her father’s family-oriented medical drama “Doc” when she was just 8, and acted in the Tim Burton movie “Big Fish” when she was 10.
And acting still looms large on Miley’s horizon. In addition to a fourth season of “Hannah Montana” that bows in January, Miley brought Hannah to the big screen and saw the resulting movie gross a whopping $147 million worldwide last spring. She’s taking on her first non-Hannah starring movie role with “The Last Song,” a coming-of-age drama also set for release in January.
But as she proved in her TODAY concert set Friday, when she whipped up a crowd of prepubescents and their minders into a frenzy, Miley believes her bread-and-butter remains singing for her supper.
She noted her father Billy Ray raised her on a musical diet of gal rockers like Janis Joplin and Joan Jett, and she’s making small steps toward moving beyond the sugary pop songs that made her famous. Miley admits her new album, “The Time of Our Lives,” sold exclusively at Wal-Mart, isn’t much of a stylistic departure, but she’s working on it.
“I kind of kept it in the lines of what I usually do, which is kind of a pop-rock sound — I don’t even like using the word ‘rock,’ because I feel like it’s an honor to be put in that title,” Miley told Morales. “This is kind of my transition. The next record, I definitely want to be able to step it up a bit.”
Wal-Mart’s not only hawking her new recording, but also a Miley fashion line in conjunction with famed French fashion designer Max Azria. Miley says she’s proud that the clothing line that bears her name features jeans, knit tops and woven shirts that almost all retail for under $20. But she admits she is still puzzled about why she’s regarded as a fashion icon worthy of her own line.
“I walked into [Azria’s] office and there was just a bunch of pictures of me,” the young singer told Morales. “I’m like, ‘OK, these are, like, not good.’ He’s like, ‘Well, that’s your style.’ I’m like, ‘Really?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, totally!’ ”