ANAHEIM, California — As the star behind the "Hannah Montana" phenomenon, actress and singer Miley Cyrus has been likened to Disney Channel archetype Hilary Duff lately. And ... well, that's pretty perfect.
"I am, like, a big Hilary Duff person. My family, like, loves her," Cyrus said recently on the set of her hit Disney show. "And it's cool, because she started 'Lizzie McGuire' at the same age that I [started 'Hannah Montana'], so the way that I am doing the business and everything is kind of following her footsteps. So watching her grow as an actress and a singer is helping me as well."
Since March, when "Hannah Montana" debuted to 5.4 million viewers, Cyrus has been the toast of the tween set. And when the soundtrack to the show spent two weeks at #1 on the Billboard albums chart last month, it set up the 14-year-old daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus (remember "Achy Breaky Heart"?) for a crossover career like a Duff, Lindsay Lohan or JoJo (see " 'Hannah Montana' Holds Billboard #1; K-Fed's Tough Week Continues").
And not only is anticipation extremely high for the second season of "Montana," but Cyrus is looking at two more possible returns to the top of the albums chart in 2007. She just finished recording new music for the show and is now focusing on her own album, which will be all about her, not the "Montana" character.
"It's a lot different from Hannah just because I don't want to mess up the show. [I want to] make sure people see the difference between Hannah and Miley," Cyrus said of her album. "It's got a little bit of a rock vibe and two songs have kind of a miniature rap. I'm well aware that I can't rap to save my life, but getting to have fun with that and kind of do cute little raps is fun."
For those not in the know (i.e. anyone with a driver's license), "Hannah Montana" chronicles the misadventures of a normal teenager named Miley Stewart who also happens to have a secret job as pop singer Hannah Montana.
"And then, this season, they just added a new character for me, which is Lou Anne, my country cousin," Cyrus said of the upcoming second season. "So now I've got three roles on 'Hannah Montana,' so I'm busy."
Fans should also keep an eye out for more personal lyrics. "Most songs for the first season reflect the show, with Miley or Hannah making sure the other doesn't get caught or whatever," Cyrus said. "[The producers] had to make sure that everyone understood the characters, but our season-two songs are more speaking out to the fans."
Like her Miley character on the show, Cyrus describes herself as a small-town girl (she's from Nashville, to be exact) with normal teenage problems like, you know, getting in trouble with her dad, who plays her father on the show.
"The worst part isn't working on the show together, it's the drive to the set," Cyrus explained. "He doesn't tell me I'm in trouble until I get in the car and he has 45 minutes just to sit there and talk about it and I can't escape. Or it's the silent treatment for an hour, which is really awkward."
Although her mother manages Cyrus in real life, her father handles the duties for the TV show, which otherwise seems to closely parallel her life.
"They did an episode where Robby Ray, his character, is getting ready to go back out and be a star again himself, and he chooses to be Hannah Montana's manager instead because he likes watching his daughter follow his dreams, which is like my dad," Cyrus said. "But watching him pretend to make all the important phone calls and stuff is funny."