Hannah Montana may be the biggest thing on television, but in real life, her portrayer, Miley Cyrus, is a typical teenager who gets grounded when she fights with her brother, sometimes forgets the lyrics to her own songs, and enjoys window-shopping for boys. The difference is, Cyrus has to do it all in the glare of a media spotlight.
Those are some of the glimpses into Miley Cyrus’ private life that the teen singer/actress revealed Thursday to TODAY’s kid correspondent, Bailey Monte. The two got together in advance of Cyrus’ Friday concert on Rockefeller Plaza as part of TODAY’s summer concert series.
“When she isn’t making music and movies, she’s really pretty normal,” 13-year-old Bailey reported. “She kind of reminds me of me.”
But the pressures Cyrus faces are far from normal, and she admitted they can be a challenge at times. “It's kinda hard when I'm out with my friends and stuff; my friends are, you know, wantin' to just hang out,” she told Bailey. “But it's also a lot of fun to be able to have fans that come up and ask for your autograph and stuff like that.”
“Do you have a boyfriend right now?” Bailey asked.
“No,” Cyrus said, but then added with a laugh: “Lookin'.”
The trouble is, looking isn't easy with the media eagerly parsing every move she makes; for example, recent reports have linked her romantically with Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, another tween music sensation, and Lucas Till, her co-star in the upcoming “Hannah Montana: The Movie.”
“It is hard when you are hanging out with guys, even guys that are just your friends,” Cyrus said. “It's automatically your boyfriend, because that's what the media thinks. I think it's good if you can be able to have guy and girl friends that, you know, understand you ... and it stinks when we go out; people automatically think we're together.”
A seasoned performer with experience that belies her tender years, Cyrus — the daughter of country singing star Billy Ray Cyrus, who burned up the charts in the ’90s with “Achy Breaky Heart” — readily admitted that at home, Mom and Dad rule.
“Does Miley Cyrus get grounded?” Bailey asked her.
“Yes, yes, Miley Cyrus does. And I kinda like it sometimes,” Cyrus replied. “I'm like, ‘Oh, it’s kinda nice just to be home,’ you know. And it'll kinda stop me for a little while from wanting to work and wanting to do this and that.”
But there is a punishment Cyrus really hates: losing her line of communication. “The worst is cell phones getting taken away,” she said. “It's the worst.”
“What have you gotten grounded for?” Bailey asked.
“Well, me and my brother are about the same age. He's one year younger — I'm 15. He's 14. So me and him kinda butt heads sometimes,” Cyrus said. “And so when we fight, [my mom’s] just like, ‘OK, you guys are both grounded,’ and then we're grounded.”
Bailey noted that Cyrus probably fights with her parents, as all teens do, but her father is also her co-worker, who works with her on her hit television show, “Hannah Montana.” “How does that translate on-set?” Bailey asked.
“Me and my dad do have a relationship where we really do try to kinda see eye to eye,” Cyrus replied. “But then again, he is my dad. So you just gotta remember the professional part of it. We don't like to take anything that’s happening at home to set. And nothing at set comes home.”
Cyrus’ father may be a country legend, but she told Bailey that her heart belongs to rock ’n’ roll. “Killers and Coldplay are my favorites,” she said. “But while I’m recording and singing, I like to kinda listen to no other music but what I’m writing … so I can really not duplicate anything else that’s been done, make it very much my own.”
Waiting for wheels
The star is looking eagerly ahead to her 16th birthday on Nov. 23, when she’ll be able to get a driver’s license — and a car.
“Do you know what kind of car?” Bailey asked.
“I’ll take anything that'll drive,” Cyrus said with apparent sincerity. “Seriously, right now I just want anything that'll get me around and hopefully it’s something somewhat OK.”
Bailey offered her own opinion on that at the end of the interview. “Something tells me she’s going to get a car that does more than just work,” she told TODAY’s hosts dryly.
Cyrus has been playing Miley Stewart and her alter ego, Hannah Montana, on the Disney Channel since March 2006, when she was Bailey’s present age, 13. She sold out a national concert series and is working on “Hannah Montana: The Movie.”
But the family-friendly teen queen became embroiled in controversy in April when she and her dad posed for a Vanity Fair photo spread shot by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz. One shot of Cyrus showing her back bare with a sheet held against her chest was criticized as too racy for a 15-year-old. On TODAY, Billy Ray Cyrus said the picture was a mistake and that it was taken after he had left the studio to go perform a concert for the U.S. military.
Miley Cyrus released her own statement in which she apologized for the picture: “I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed. I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.”
But when Bailey asked what Cyrus’ most embarrassing moment was, the Vanity Fair imbroglio was not what the teen superstar chose.
“It really is embarrassing when you forget the words to your own song,” Cyrus admitted. “Like the other day, I forgot the words to 'See You Again,' and that song plays 24/7. How I forgot the words, I don't know.”