On the evening of Jan. 20, amid the riot of networking that is the Sundance Film Festival, a pretty young folk singer named Mandy Moore took to a makeshift stage at a private Park City, Utah, home and performed a set of low-key confessionals for a small audience of attentive listeners. Buzzed on promotional booze, the crowd swayed in time to stories of love lost and confidence gained, and wondered perhaps why this impressive new talent had not been discovered by the world.

The answer, as anyone with a pop-cultural memory that stretches back farther than "Newlyweds" and K-Fed can tell you: She's been busy being Mandy Moore, the teen-pop tart who rode to stardom astride the sugar-high groove of "Candy," one of the genre's biggest hit singles. Never quite an equal of such jailbait glamazons as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, Moore nonetheless carved out a sizable niche for herself in the early-'00s teen-pop firmament by emphasizing her fresh-faced kid-sister qualities—a job made easier by acting in feel-good fluff like "The Princess Diaries" and "A Walk to Remember." In those days of dime-a-dozen mini-divas, you didn't really mind having Moore around, but you did not really take her seriously, either.

Eight years after the release of her debut, people—and not only the ones at Sundance—are doing just that. As the majority of her teen-pop peers have drifted into creative irrelevance (or worse), Moore, 22, has improbably become one of the more credible singer/actors of her generation, slowly building a film résumé peppered with quirky art-house flicks and making records more about singer/songwriter craft than high-gloss production flash.

This year Moore will release "Wild Hope," her first album of self-penned material, and she's got a handful of films on the way that pair her with capital-A actors such as Billy Crudup and Diane Keaton.

"She's a tough, smart kid," says Paul Theroux, the "Six Feet Under" star who directed Moore in the upcoming romantic comedy "Dedication." "Even though she's beautiful and has this sort of angelic look, she's got some callused shoulders."

So how did this former teen-pop B-lister make it out of the land of lip gloss and double-entendres?

Click here to read about Mandy Moore's upcoming album, her exit from Epic Records, her new deal with management company the Firm and more.