The Billboard Q&A: Miley Cyrus
Let's get it out of the way. That Vanity Fair photo shoot? For a teen idol that's suddenly been turned into glossy rag mag fodder, Miley Cyrus is remarkably sanguine when asked about the bare-shoulderLet's get it out of the way. That Vanity Fair photo shoot? For a teen idol that's suddenly been turned into glossy rag mag fodder, Miley Cyrus is remarkably sanguine when asked about the bare-shoulder, bedsheet-entwined photo.
"I was embarrassed," she says in her rapid, self-assured clip, "but also it's like, every career thing that I do can't be perfect, and sometimes my decisions are wrong. I think that just makes me even more relatable. I don't think people will look at me any differently because they're like, 'You know what, I'm going to do stupid stuff too, and I'm going to make mistakes, and that's fine.' It still hurts when I think about it—but you know what, it doesn't mean that you can't move on."
So with that in mind, we'll move on. Cyrus certainly has—she's got a new record, "Breakout," out July 22 and is currently filming a "Hannah Montana" movie in Tennessee, followed quickly by a return to the Disney studios to shoot another season of the show that made her a household name. After the season wraps, she'll hit the road for another tour, hoping to mimic, if not best, the remarkable success of her last tour outing.
The hardworking professional spills the beans about her new album, new movie, TV show and the importance of being a good role model.
How is the new album different from your previous efforts?
It's grown-up. I wrote all the songs except two. My last one, "Meet Miley Cyrus," was more just meeting me, finding out who I am, and here it's more getting in depth of what's been going on in my life in the past year.
Not many people are aware that you're a songwriter. Can you talk a little bit about your process?
Songwriting is what I really want to do with my life forever. No matter how long what I'm doing here lasts, I want to be a songwriter for the rest of my life. I love it and it's my escape. I just hope this record showcases that—more than anything—I'm a writer.
I wrote my first song when I was probably 7—it was called "Pink." That shows what kind of song it was about—it's about the color pink. But you know what, darn it, I wrote it and I've been writing since I was my little sister's age.
At this point, though, when I'm writing I like to not listen to music at all because I don't want to ever be like, "Oh, this is cool," and start to sound like anyone else. I try to just kind of focus on my music and just continue to write, just kind of block everything out. I don't watch TV at night; I actually try to make sure my mind is focused.
There were many kids who were disappointed that they couldn't see you on your last tour. Are you planning to tour with this new record, and what are you going to do to make sure all your fans can see you?
Yeah, we're definitely going to go on tour. We're not sure when we're going to do that—probably early next year, later this year, we're not sure—but I want to make it a lot different. My last tour was successful, but I want to do something that no one's tried before.
In terms of the kids who couldn't get in, I don't know if I could do more—we did 76 shows last year and I don't know that I could do more than that. Maybe I could do that and take a little break and go back into it? Also, the 3-D movie was awesome for the people that didn't get to come see the show.
Those kids can also watch you in the third season of "Hannah Montana," which starts filming soon. After this season wraps, will you want to stay with Disney for the long term, or will the "Hannah Montana" show eventually wrap up and you'll move on to different projects?
It will wrap up, eventually. I mean, I won't be Hannah Montana by the time I'm 30. But we've only done two seasons, so we definitely want to work on that hopefully for another two years.
And the film you're working on is also tied to the "Hannah Montana" story, correct?
The story of the new movie is basically about going back to Tennessee and wanting to just kind of get back to your roots, but then realizing that maybe you don't want to go back to them. I think the movie is about just having the Hannah character not disappear, but kind of be put on the back burner for a minute and have Miley Stewart just really show her talent and also her ambitions and dreams and other things more than just the Hannah life.
Do you plan to act in other films that aren't connected to Disney or "Hannah Montana"? Perhaps some sort of really edgy indie film where you break out of the box?
I've been talking to people about some cool movies, but right now I mostly want to stay within my company and keep them happy and keep everything that we're doing successful and focus on that. I like to do everything that I do 120% and unless I can focus hardcore on that, I don't want to do it yet.
Yet you still find time to juggle all these projects. There was also some buzz about you writing a memoir a while ago—is that still the plan?
Kind of—it's more of a book for kids and teenagers, and I'm going to start working on that at some point. I love to write. Any way I can get a pen and paper and write down some ideas, whether it's a song, movie, book, anything—I love to do that.
You come across as someone who is very concerned with being a good role model for young kids and particularly young women. In an era when teen stars are falling out of limos with no underpants on, how do you make sure you stay true to yourself?
It's something that I've been super blessed with, that I've had the opportunity and the ability to spread the light. That doesn't mean that I'm not going to make mistakes and do things that everyone's going to be happy with, because there's no such thing as perfection. My thing that I always believe in—that I also try to tell girls especially—[is that] so many people look at these models and actors and singers and they're so perfect . . . [but] I say imperfections equal beauty. The most beautiful things in life are the ones that aren't perfect. There's so many beautiful things about life that won't be perfect that you'll learn from. I just like to be the role model that doesn't say you have to be perfect all the time. I like to tell them that their mistakes are beautifully broken.
A recent survey out of Canada highlighted your show as being great for young women because it showcases a wide range of body types. Is that something that you did intentionally, and is it important to you?
I stress about that stuff like everyone else, but at the end of day, I'm a good ol' Southern girl that likes her Cracker Barrel at 9 o'clock at night and if I want it, gosh darn, I'm going to eat it. I'm not going to make myself miserable. And for so many girls, you don't want to be thin because you want the guy to think you're gorgeous or whatever—you do it all for women, you do it all for a competition. That's so silly, it's such a game. [Why] waste your time with a game you're never going to win? There's always going to be someone that I think is prettier than me, there's always going to be someone that I'm going to think is a better vocalist, or a better writer, better guitarist. There's always going to be that, so why stress myself about the competition the whole time?
Are there any artists you look up to, or mentors who have helped guide you through this process and keep you focused? Anyone whose career you admire and might want to emulate?
Mostly my mom—no one knows better than the person that made Billy Ray Cyrus, you know what I mean? My mom was a huge part of my dad during "Achy Breaky Heart" and all that. No one knows better than her because [of what] my dad's already been through—and when he forgot most of it, my mom remembers every moment. [laughs]
As far as other artists, it's hard because everyone is so different. I went on tour with the Jonas Brothers and I got to watch them grow, I got to watch them become famous. When I first went on tour with them they hadn't really had their record out very long—and all of a sudden I watched them blow up. It was fun to watch them do that, and I like to see what kind of career moves they'll make. I like to watch other stars that have grown up in this business, but I think everyone's path is going to be so different and everyone needs to take their own direction.
I'm so happy with what I'm doing right now. I recognize that I'm super blessed and thank the Lord every day that I get to live my dream.
Additional reporting by Andre Paine in London.