Alexa Ray Joel struggled in the shadow of famous parents, 'but I made it through'

By Ree Hines

While growing up with famous parents might have its perks, it wasn't so easy for Alexa Ray Joel, the daughter of singer-songwriter Billy Joel and supermodel Christie Brinkley.

"It took me a minute — being the daughter of such iconic figures, it took some growing into," she explained during a Friday morning visit to TODAY. "You're exposed to the spotlight at such a young age and that, of course, can be challenging. … But I made it through."

One thing that helped her was learning to embrace the thing that made her father famous in the first place — music.

"It was definitely a struggle," she admitted. "I was a late bloomer, and I was painfully shy. I don't know why I just decided to go into performing, because I am such an introvert at my core. (But) music has always been my solace and always been my … where I go to. It's pulled me through everything, saved me."

While Joel's worked to make a name of her own and stressed that "everyone deserves the opportunity to be seen for who they are, in their own light," she's now found comfort in her following in her father's footsteps. So much so, she's even covered one of his classic hits.

Joel first recorded "Just the Way You Are" for a Gap ad, but before producing the single, she reached out to an expert for help — dad.

"I did ask him for his advice initially, and then — because he knows he's good, he knows he's amazing at what he does — he wanted me to do it his way," the 27-year-old laughed. "I said, 'Dad, then it would be just like your song. I have to redo it and make it my own.' And the he went, 'Oh, that's pretty good!'"

See just how good in the clip. Joel performed the song live on TODAY.