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Teen star Hilary Duff: 'I'm very normal'

No wild nights or rehab for this 19-year-old star, who lives with her sister Haylie and spends her free time learning how to cook. The singer-actress, who also designs a line of clothing, is on tour with her fourth album this summer.
/ Source: TODAY contributor

She's the anti-Britney, a teen star who tries to live and perform with dignity, which also happens to be the title of Hilary Duff's fourth CD.

Between live performances of songs from the album on Rockefeller Plaza outside the TODAY studios, she talked with TODAY co-host Meredith Vieira about "Dignity" and being 19 and living on her own with her 22-year-old sister, actress and singer Haylie Duff.

"We're trying to learn how to cook so we can feed ourselves," she told Vieira. "Haylie's better than I am, but I can bake, which is good."

What makes "Dignity" different from her previous albums, which have sold more than 13 million copies, is that for the first time Duff co-wrote all the songs on it.

"Are you trying to be adult?" Vieira asked Duff.

"People have watched me grow up for such a long time that everybody thinks that it's this huge, new thing that I'm trying to do," she said. There was no conscious decision involved. Rather, she said, "It's like the first time that I wanted to write my own music and come up with my own sound.

"I'm a little bit older. It's where I am in my life right now."

Where she is is everywhere. "She's more than a triple-threat," Vieira observed, a singer, actress and fashion designer who also has her own perfume called "With Love," which is the name of the first single on her album. What she is not is a police-blotter entry or an alumna of a rehab center.

"'Nineteen' and 'dignity' don't go together" very often these days, Vieira observed before asking Duff what her secret is.

"I don't know," she said. "I wish there was some kind of formula I could explain. I guess it's just the way you want to be seen, and what you do in your personal time and how much you want the public to know about that.

"I'm very close to my family. I'm very normal. If I'm not working — I work pretty much every day — I hang out with my dog and I live with my sister."

She doesn't rely on material things for security, she said, adding, "My band and my crew — I rely on them and my dog."

Her appearance on the Plaza was part of the TODAY Show's Summer Concert Series. Later this summer, she and her band will be off on a month-long tour of the U.S.

"Stranger," another single she performed for an enthusiastic crowd, has reached No. 4 on MTV's TRL, and "With Love" was No. 1 on that chart.

She's also listed at No. 1 on Billboard's Dance Chart and last week was named "favorite international artist" on the Much Music Awards.

Besides the album, Duff is also doing two films, "War, Inc." with John Cusack, Ben Kingsley and Marisa Tomei; and an animated feature, "Foodfight."

Still, she has time for charitable causes, spending time a week ago to visit Normancie Elementary School in Los Angeles to stuff back packs with food for the Blessings in a Back Pack charity run by USA Harvest. Among her other charitable causes are animal rights and Kids with a Cause. After Hurricane Katrina, she donated more than $2.5 million to victims of that disaster.

A star since she was 13 and starring in the Disney Channel series "Lizzie McGuire," Duff has also had roles in "The Lizzie McGuire Movie," "Cheaper by the Dozen" and "A Cinderella Story."

As early as five years ago, she was dating singer Aaron Carter, whom she met on the set of "Lizzie McGuire." The entertainment press reported that her heart was broken when Carter left her for fellow teen star Lindsay Lohan.

Duff and Lohan have since made up, and Lohan was among the guests when "Dignity" was released.

In 2004, Duff was linked with singer Joel Madden, a relationship that ended last year.