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You may know her as Miley, but Destiny Hope Cyrus was always bound for greatness.
“My dad said it was my destiny to bring hope to the world,” Cyrus revealed about her birth name in a recent interview with Howard Stern.
“It never fit me, I was smiling all the time. And that’s where I got it, I never went by Destiny. My dad always said, ‘she’s smiling, she’s ‘miling, she’s Miley.'” The name stuck.
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Cyrus went so far as to legally change it to Miley Ray Cyrus in 2008 after her fame took off, due to the massive success of Disney’s hit show Hannah Montana.
The “Wrecking Ball” singer, now 24, has been promoting her new album Younger Now, and took an trip down memory lane with Howard Stern (an interviewer who is known for getting the most personal details out of his subjects).
But surely her time in the hot seat didn’t make Cyrus uneasy. The star was always pretty comfortable with the spotlight right on her. “Teachers complained and said that I was the class clown, but I wasn’t a clown — I was entertaining my class!” Cyrus explained.
It wasn’t long before her days spent entertaining her classmates turned into more professional duties. She auditioned for Hannah Montana when she was just eleven years old, and Cyrus credits her mom as the force behind her success.
She drove Cyrus to every single audition and soon after became her manager. But both parents were not exactly on board from the start. It might be hard to believe, especially since he played her TV dad on the show, but Cyrus’ dad Billy Ray Cyrus originally did not want her to become a child star.
“My dad would’ve been happy for me to stay on the farm my whole life and be homeschooled and never make friends,” Cyrus told Stern.
It seems Billy Ray didn’t want his daughter to experience the constant rejection that is all too familiar for many actresses. “He was so scared of that heartbreak,” Cyrus explained.
She encountered heartbreak perhaps a little sooner than even her dad might have expected — when Disney cast someone else in the starring role of Hannah Montana.
“They even did [the] pilot without me,” Cyrus said. “Every time the door slams in your face I think you get back up more determined.” This perseverance and determination has served her well (even at such a young age).
It wasn’t long before that same door reopened: after Disney shot the pilot with the other actress, “they said it didn’t work,” Cyrus explained — and it was her turn this time to book the lead role of the show.
Some may say it was destiny.
Fame came quickly for the pre-teen. Once the show aired and she was recognized for the first time, life would never be the same.
“The next day I went to go ride rollercoasters with my friends and someone asked me for my autograph and I was so stoked. I got my picture taken with this kid. Then it kind of became a sh*t show and I had to leave. But that was so cool,” Cyrus said.
“[But] then it kept happening for a couple more weeks, and then I was wishing I really was Hannah Montana and I really could double life it.”
The show was a success, and it only got bigger. The 3D concert movie, Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert, broke records in 2008 with the biggest debut ever — even beating out Super Bowl Weekend. In 2009, Hannah Montana: The Movie, had a grand slam opening weekend and raked in $34 million.
With the world as her stage, Cyrus worked to establish herself as both a singer and an actress. And even though so many people knew her voice at this point, Cyrus admits that she still didn’t know what it was she was trying to say.
She explained to Stern that it wasn’t until the aftermath of her infamous 2013 VMA performance that she realized just how much power she held.
“That was the first time that it clicked. I finally went, ‘Sh*t people are going to talk about me coming out of a teddy bear wearing a teddy bear costume… everyone’s gonna talk about it, everyone’s gonna know about it.”
But Cyrus quickly realized that turning this kind of fame and power into something meaningful would matter more to her than any starring role; any album release. She recalled asking herself, “What if that could be a thing that isn’t self serving? What if everything that people could talk about, what if it had value, actual value?’ That’s what f*cking made me start the Happy Hippie Foundation. That’s what made me who I am.”
Fast forward to 2017, and Cyrus is writing her own music again and is embracing more than just her country roots. Cyrus explained to Stern that she’s no longer running away from the character she is most known for playing.
“I love that I was f*cking Hannah Montana. That’s what the song ‘Younger Now’ on my album is about. It says, ‘Even though it’s not who I am, I’m not afraid of who I used to be.'”