Autobiography of Miley Cyrus: I Didn't Think I Was Beautiful
You can also read about Miley's recent life lower in the article . . .
The following article is based on Miley Cyrus’ autobiography, Miles to Go, co-written by Hilary Liftin, published in March 2009, copyright by Smiley Miley, Inc. After that, a recent biography is included for fans of Miley Cyrus.
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Born Destiny Hope Cyrus on November 23, 1992 (legally changing her name to Miley Ray Cyrus early in 2008), Miley grew up on a 500-acre farm near Franklin, Tennessee. She loved this simple, old-fashioned country life, interacting with her five brothers and sisters and attending a Christian church regularly. To many people this farm life may seem idyllic. These days, unfortunately, most people in the U.S. have moved into the cities, so they can’t experience such a life.
While Miley grew up, her father had many entertainers come visit at the farm, people such as Ed King, Johnny Neel and Carl Perkins, as well as Waylon Jennings, who once sang one of his big hits, “Good-Hearted Woman,” while Miley sat on his lap.
After a year of home schooling while doing some acting here and there, Miley returned to the public grind in Nashville for the sixth grade. Soon, she joined the cheerleading team. Being so small, she was very popular with the guys, because they could easily throw her all over the place. Her team won trophies.
But the fun of cheerleading was marred when three bullies (the Anti-Miley Club as she soon called it) decided they didn’t like Miley, this new girl in school with a famous father, and began scrutinizing Miley’s wardrobe, her every gesture and word. Reacting to this unpleasantness, Miley’s friends separated from her, not wanting to get involved. About this, Miley wrote in her autobiography: “Now I knew I wasn’t just being paranoid. I was an outcast. Why were my 'friends' turning on me? I had no idea. But there you have it. Welcome to sixth-grade social hell.”
Fortunately, Miley found a major distraction: she flew to L.A. and auditioned for a part in a new Disney Channel sit-com, Hannah Montana. At first, Miley tried out for the part of Lilly, the best friend of the show’s star, Chloe Stewart. But it soon became apparent that Miley had the talent – particularly the singing and dancing ability - to try out for the part of the main character, though the producers thought she might be too small and too young.
Miley returned to Nashville not knowing if she had gotten the part. Weeks passed and then she got the word that she was a “finalist.” It was bliss incorporated for Miley Cyrus, for attaining this part would certainly be the proverbial dream come true.
At this time in the book, Miley emphasized the importance of conquering your fears and having a willingness to take risks in order to fulfill your dreams. She said it would be impossible to succeed in this world without facing fears and taking risks.
Back at school, the Anti-Miley Club sent a letter to Miley telling her not to come to the cafeteria the following day or else. Miley thought, Should I pretend to have the flu? Should I skip lunch? Should I arm myself with a ketchup bottle and prepare for battle?
Then Miley’s mom (Leticia “Tish” Finley) found out about the threat and called the principal, defusing the potential clash. Nevertheless, the Terrible Trio didn’t let up on Miley, one time locking her in a bathroom. At this point, Miley wrote about her depression in the song, “Bottom of the Ocean.”
Finally – boom! Disney sent the news to Miley that she had gotten the part of Hannah Montana, while, coincidentally, she listened to the song “I Can’t Take It” by Tegan and Sara. It appears Miley wasn’t as happy attaining this achievement as she was about escaping Nashville before starting high school!
While Miley auditioned girls to play the part of her best friend Lilly, Miley’s mother began talking to the casting people about the possibility of Billy Ray playing the part of Miley’s dad on the show. After all, Billy had acting experience, having worked on the program Doc, a Canadian TV show. When, while auditioning, Miley and her father sang “I Want My Mullet Back,” one of Billy’s hits, he easily got the part.
Miley wrote that her father is something like his character on Hannah Montana; he loves family life and often imparts words of wisdom, one example of which is: “For every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Where have we heard that one before? By the way, Billy Ray wants them to play “Over the Rainbow” at his funeral.
Interestingly, Miley did some acting on Doc; she played a young girl named Kiley, the daughter of an abusive, alcoholic mother. She also acted in a commercial for Banquet Foods, and also played the part of Ruthie, a goody-two-shoes Southern girl in Tim Burton’s movie, Big Fish.
Before the pilot for the show was released, Miley performed in concert as Hannah Montana. Wearing pajamas, she sang songs such as “Pumping Up the Party Now.”
Miley’s book shows numerous annotations along the left or right margins, and one of them read: “Hannah has grown up so much – she’d never perform in sleepover PJs now!”
Sadly, about this time, Miley’s grandfather (her father’s father), Pappy as she called him, died of cancer. Miley wrote a song about him titled “I Miss You.” Pappy died right before the premiere of Hannah Montana, though, fortunately, he did see a tape of the pilot.
Miley moves to La La Land
When the family had to relocate to Los Angeles so Miley could work at Disney Studios, Miley’s mother bought a small house in La Cañada . . . on the Internet! Miley wrote, “Mom is so twenty-first century.”
While on the set, Miley often argued with sidekick Emily Osment, who had gotten the part of Lilly. (Miley theorized that it was because they came from different backgrounds – Emily grew up in L.A.) The two of them would swap frowns or rolling eyes when the other one flubbed a line, missed a cue or whatever. Miley wrote, “The show felt real to me, and I wanted my relationship with Lilly to feel real too. I knew it didn’t have to – show business is show business – but I was disappointed. There were times when I didn’t think we could ever be friends. We just couldn’t figure out how to get along.”
Miley soon realized her fame wouldn’t be instantaneous. As she walked down the red carpet at the premiere of the Disney movie, Chicken Little, nobody took her photograph and, at the after-party, she and her mother had to eat while sitting on the floor.
When Miley first toured as Hannah Montana, opening for the Cheetah Girls, she didn’t have a backup band, just a band tract and only four dancers. Miley did 20 shows in one month. About this period, she wrote, “My dreams had come true. I was a singer. And an actor. So what if the dream come true had a straight blond wig glued on top? This girl wasn’t complaining. You know that old expression: A wig on the head is better than a head in the sixth-grade toilet.”
Then something happened in Miley’s life that was potentially much more serious than some bullies trying to get her to knuckle under.
While touring in St. Louis, Miley started getting so sick that she had to see a doctor. After an examination, the doctor diagnosed Miley as having a “hole in her heart,” a condition which can cause tachycardia, or a racing of the heart rate. So Miley had to start taking better care of herself.
(A hole in the heart is - according to an article on WebMD - a condition known as an atrial septal defect, which can cause blood from one chamber of the heart to leak into another, which isn’t how the organ is supposed to work. Some conditions can require surgery, though not necessarily something as serious as open-heart surgery.)
Miley’s second album, Meet Miley Cyrus, featured two discs, one with Miley performing as her alter ego, Hannah Montana, and the other as Miley Cyrus. Miley said that many of the songs on the album are about her “Prince Charming,” reportedly Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers.
About the music in this album, Miley wrote, “Music (and other forms of art) does the same thing. It can inspire, lift you up to the future, rein in your pride, knock you off your feet, embrace your soul, change your life. I want to make that kind of music. Art is a gift to others. The purpose of art is to drown people in emotion.”
Even with such lofty ideas about music and art in her head, Miley suffered from feelings of inadequacy or insecurity. One morning, at the age of 14, she couldn’t get out of bed. Simply put, Miley didn’t think she was beautiful. She had zits on her face and didn’t like her toenails or what she called her “cankles” (calf-like ankles). And it didn’t help when people made fun of her on the Internet!
About this state, Miley wrote, “When the second season (of Hannah Montana) ended, I was busier than ever. I was about to go on tour and didn’t have time to think. I was always dancing, sweating, out late working. The distraction helped. But when I went home, and the distractions were gone, the self-hatred would hit me all over again. I’d lost perspective.”
When Miley was in a funk, she liked bringing gifts, good feelings and jokes to children in hospitals, as her father often did. While at one hospital, Miley meet Venessa, who suffered from cystic fibrosis. Interacting with Venessa helped Miley conquer her vanity, self-centeredness and gave her “perspective,” a word she often used in the book.
A short time later, Venessa died, devastating Miley.
During Miley’s subsequent “Best of Both Worlds” tour, she donated one dollar from the sale of every ticket to the City of Hope, a charity for people suffering from cancer. And for Miley’s 16th birthday party held at Disneyland, 5,000 people were charged an admission of $250 apiece, and then Miley donated one million dollars to Youth Service America. Miley has also donated lots of time and money to other charities.
Finally, it was time for the young TV star to make a movie. Hannah Montana: The Movie was filmed at the Cyrus family’s 500-acre farm in Franklin, Tennessee. Miley really enjoyed the experience of working so close to home. Perhaps because of this, she also got along better with co-star Emily Osment (Lilly).
Incidentally, Miley wrote that she often uses Method acting when playing the part of Hannah Montana. Method acting emphasizes the use of one’s personal experiences to get into character.
After Miley completed Hannah Montana: The Movie, she began working on Breakout, a rock ‘n’ roll album without any connection to her Hannah Montana character.
Only time will tell how much success Miley Cyrus garners with her career as a pop star, actress and songwriter. Conceivably, she could one day attain the status of such stars as Marilyn Monroe (one of Miley’s favorites), Dolly Parton, LeAnn Rimes, Madonna, Sheryl Crow or, pick out a name, as there seems no limit to Miley’s possibilities. If she continues to follow her dreams, as she likes to express it, who knows what may happen.
Miley's Recent Life
The Voice and Beyond
In early 2012, Miley Cyrus’ career seemed mired in an uneventful phase. Miley hadn’t been performing in movies or TV shows, and the two movies she'd made in recent years - Laughing Out Loud and So Undercover - weren’t successful at the box office. She hadn’t made much music either, just a Bob Dylan cover tune, “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go."
Then, early in the summer of 2012, Miley released the Backyard Sessions, a video on which she sang covers such as "Look What They've Done to My Song" and “Lilac Wine.” These favorites of Miley’s certainly display her talent for crooning heartfelt ballads.
Moving on, there was also reason to believe Miley was overdoing her partying lifestyle – drinking and smoking and who knows what else. There also seemed to be physical evidence – parallel scratches on her arms – that seemed to indicate she was engaging in some kind of youthful ritual or self mutilation. What was happening to Miley? The combination of youth, money, fame and lots of spare time has toppled many stars. Like many contemporary celebrities, was Miley Ray Cyrus headed for rehab? Or worse?
By the fall of 2012, Miley had become engaged to Australian actor Liam Hemsworth and seemed eager to marry and have numerous kids. At this point, her fans may have wondered if they were interested in seeing Miley as a married woman, plump with offspring, and seemingly satisfied with the mundane life most people experience.
In the spring of 2013, Miley released a new single, this one with Snoop Lion (formerly Snoop Dog). It’s hard to figure what this song is about, though its title, “Heartbreaks and Ashtrays,” must provide a clue or two. This edgy rock tune was just a teaser, it appeared, before Miley finally released her long-anticipated new album, the first one since she tossed aside her Hannah Montana wig and persona, which many fans may wish she hadn't dumped quite so soon.
Then in June 2013 Miley released another single entitled, “We Can’t Stop.” This tune seems to express everyone’s right to party whenever and wherever they want, even if it keeps you up till dawn, and only God can judge you about such behavior, so don’t even think about doing such a thing.
It’s our party we can do what we want.
Okay, Miley, nobody can stop you from doing what you want; after all, this is America. But if you end up in rehab, you may wish somebody had given you the wisdom of experience.
Of course, if the song and video are meant to be funny exaggerations, then maybe the joke's on everyone else, eh, Miles?
Then Miley’s engagement to Liam Hemsworth dropped “down under,” so she headed for the Hollywood meet market. Along the way, Miley finally released her new album, Bangerz, and lit up the TV screen by appearing as the host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live. Her career seemed on a great upswing, after years of singing cover songs in the backyard and partying till dawn. Maybe all Miley ever had to do was unload guys and get busy.
Miley’s Bangerz Tour began in February 2013 and ended in October 2014. The reviews for her performances on this world tour were generally good. Blake Hannon called the show a “campy, cartoonishly over-the-top spectacle and musical showcase that was unforgettable... You can't help but admire (or scratch your head at) the girl's go-big-or-go-home approach." But Francois Marchand from The Vancouver Sun opined that Miley presented herself as “a pop artist in a shiny, attention-grabbing wrapper", and that the performance was neither "the evolution of pop, female empowerment, nor mindless fun," but rather "capitalism at work."
Perhaps the best positive review came from Shawn Conner of USA Today, who said, “Cyrus has the charisma and maybe the smarts to be the post-Madonna Madonna." Conner added that Cyrus appeared “approachable, on- and off-stage, in a way that Madonna never did."
Overall, most critics praised Miley for not lip-synching any of her songs. They also appreciated her covering songs from other artists such as Dolly Parton, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Lana Del Rey and the Smiths.
Oh, yeah, and the Dominican Republic banned Miley from bringing her show into the country. Did Miley care? She didn’t seem to.
Then, in July 2014, NBC presented a two-hour program about the Bangerz tour. Unfortunately, the ratings for the show weren’t impressive. But anybody who didn’t view the show missed seeing Miley at her behind-the-scenes best, particularly when singing tunes with her brother and sister. Clips from some of her performances during the tour were also shown.
From the time Miley became a teenager, she hasn’t seen herself as a boy or girl; she thinks gender designation is passé or at least unnecessary. This point of view seems obvious when viewing Miley’s gender-bending attire and hair styles. (Since Miley nuked her Hannah Montana persona, she’s generally kept her hair very short, though stylish, of course.) “Gender is over” has become Miley’s mantra, or least one of them. Miley has shown signs of pursuing a bisexual lifestyle as well, though since she has so many friends, male and female, it’s hard to tell who the boyfriends and girlfriends may be. Nevertheless, at least once, she wore a “Gay OK” pin, so she appears open to such matters.
Naturally, America pop stars – and many other folks - have been experimenting with cross-dressing, homosexuality and androgyny for awhile - since at least the 1960s - so maybe Miley is just continuing a trend that shows few signs of disappearing anytime soon. If you want it, go for it - that’s what living in America is all about, right?
Milky Milky Milk Tour
Toward the end of 2015, Miley Cyrus launched her fifth concert tour, entitled the Milky Milky Milk Tour, which presented eight shows over two months. The Flaming Lips and Dan Deacon joined her on the tour. Like the Bangerz tour, this one was a sexually charged, burlesque bash of music and jokes. For her first performance, Miley wore an S&M bondage ensemble, complete with fake breasts and a large, bouncy, phallic prop between her legs. Moreover, many of her songs were decidedly bawdy, particularly “BB Talk,” which provides generous use of the f-word. And her song “Karen Don’t Be Sad” was about a gender-bender character bullied for her choice of lifestyle.
Crisis in Six Scenes
Miley returned to TV by playing the role of a young leftist radical named Lennie Dale in Woody Allen’s, Crisis in Six Scenes, produced by Amazon Studios. In this comedy series set in the late 1960s, Lennie constantly clashes with Sidney Muntzinger, an elderly man played by Woody Allen. For instance, Lennie gives marijuana to Alan (a friend’s son), played by John Magaro, and Muntzinger throws a right-wing fit. Of course, during the party hearty Sixties, giving away pot wasn’t such a big deal, was it? But Lennie's also on-the-run from the cops because she had blown up a draft board with a homemade bomb, and hopes to hide-out at Munsinger’s home until she can flee to Cuba.
Miley joined season 11 of NBC’s TV series The Voice in the fall of 2016. Once a key adviser, Miley became one of four coaches, the others being Alicia Keys, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. At first, it appeared Miley wasn’t getting along with Adam Levine. Perhaps they were just giving each other a hard time, as the expression goes, or maybe Miley just talks too much (you know how she is), or perhaps they were too much alike. And then people were saying that both Levine and Shelton were bullying Miley. Be that as it may, Miley got along fabulously with Alicia Keys, considering Alicia her soul mate. Their fondness for each other was obvious from the get-go.
As for Miley’s performance as a coach on the show, she certainly seemed to have a plethora of talented singers at the onset, but, unfortunately, by the finals Miley’s singers had been eliminated. Miley was disappointed, of course, though she kept her cheerful demeanor until the end of the show.
After weeks of little or no contact with social media, Miley Cyrus announced that she was no longer partying, and she appears to be living a modest, clean lifestyle in the beachfront area of Malibu, California. So, appropriately, she then released a new single entitled “Malibu,” in which she expresses her love and affection . . . for whom? Probably her long-time beau, Liam Hemsworth, it appears certain. The song is very sweet and upbeat and certainly a departure from Miley’s recent, edgy pop tunes, which may have dismayed some fans.
Miley Cyrus released her sixth studio album in September 2017; it’s entitled Younger Now and seems to follow in the prancing footsteps and breezy, bucolic splendor about which Miley sang in “Malibu,” her prior single, an obvious ode to life with hunk Liam Hemsworth. Firmly implanted in the new, squeaky-clean Miley, sans doobies, Younger Now springs forth with more easy-listening, country-inflected balladry but, people may wonder, is there enough exciting originality to warrant listening to it more than once?
On Pitchfork.com, dated 9/29/17, Claire Lobenfeld wrote: “Bland production and weak songwriting hamstring the personalized nature of Younger Now, making it merely a suggestion of the kind of artist Miley Cyrus could be.”
Per Sputnikmusic.com, dated Oct. 9, 2017, the GeoNeon penned, “Ultimately, this album is a mixed bag. Never horrifically detestable, never blowing me away.”
As published on Slantmagazine.com, dated Oct. 4, 2017, Zachary Hoskins opined: “Younger Now is a clear retreat to the middle of the road, though, it also feels truer to Cyrus’s artistic strengths than her last two albums. On this new album, she wisely sticks to the thing that allowed her to cross over from the Disney Channel silo in the first place: her powerful, husky-beyond-its-years voice, which has only gotten better as she’s grown into it.”
As the album’s mixed reviews would seem to suggest, Miley may want to reflect on the music she does best. If she belts out hook-laden Hannah Montana tunes, a little in-your-face rebellion a la Bangerz, backyard cover songs performed with friends, as well as feel-good, country-laced pop, she may assemble a greatest hits compilation that could possibly win a Grammy Award.
So, what’s next for Miley? Stay tuned, because it should be fun to watch.
Hey, keep going and check out some of Miley’s best videos:
Who Owns My Heart
We Can't Stop
Bob Dylan Cover
Can't Be Tamed
Fly on the Wall
Start All Over
Click on another Miley Cyrus story . . .
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And here's another one . . .
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© 2009 Kelley