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Hayley Kiyoko Is Changing The Music Game -- And Doing It All Herself

'This was my first time directing, so I didn’t know if I would be any good,' the former Disney starlet says.

Girls like girls, just like boys do. It's a simple message, really. And it served as singer-songwriter Hayley Kiyoko's inspiration for the LGBT-positive music video for her single "Girls Like Girls."

The powerful song, which Kiyoko wrote with songwriters Owen Thomas and Lily Mae Young, was originally conceived from a silly inside joke.

"We kind of have this joke where I want to be a rapper, and we were talking about how rappers are always talking about stealing other guys' girls," Kiyoko, 24, told MTV News. "That was just a spark in our minds, and it was like, there's not really a song that's female empowered, where a confident girl is stealing some other guy's girl. We just loved that idea and fresh perspective."

The music video, which Kiyoko co-directed with Austin S. Winchell, was shot shoestring budget and starred young up-and-comers Stefanie Scott and Kelsey Chow as two best friends who shared everything -- clothes, cigarettes and lingering glances.

"The music video itself is a nice juxtaposition, because you’re not seeing a girl who's super cocky and stealing all these girls," Kiyoko said. "You’re seeing an innocent normal, 18-year-old girl just going through these feelings and then the song, and its lyrics, become this inner dialogue for her, where this is what she’s really thinking in her mind -- this is what she really wants."

"I do everything myself, so it was really amazing to not have a machine behind me and kind of have so many talented people involved -- from the coloring to the sound," the singer-songwriter added. "I just got to work with such wonderful people who really cared about the project and I think that's why the video exudes so much passion and emotion. Because everyone worked really hard to make it happen."

For Kiyoko, hiring her good friend, and frequent screen partner, Scott to star in her music video wasn't something she thought about, until her "Jem and the Holograms" co-star cast herself in the part.

"We've been doing so many projects together, so I didn’t even think about pitching it to her," she said. "And I was telling her about this concept and this idea just a couple of months ago, and she was like, 'Oh my god, I love this story, I want to do this. This would be so amazing.'"

The result was a truly mesmerizing and incredibly fearless performance from the 18-year-old, who manages to be both vulnerable and badass, especially when things take a violent turn.

"We didn't want it to be over-sexualized or overdone, just something that is very subtle," Kiyoko said. "She did just an amazing job just showcasing that honesty. It's not easy, and I really felt for her in those moments."

"This was my first time directing, so I didn’t know if I would be any good," she added. "But we have such a great chemistry and we work so well together, and she really trusted me with this project. I loved that. It wouldn’t have been possible without all of them trusting me."

When asked what she's learned from her first time in the director's chair, the former Disney star said she feels like she "can be a better actress."

"On a very small scale, I kind of understand why the directors that I work with do certain things," she said. "I don’t consider myself an incredible director. I'm not ready to do movies by any means. But, I feel like I can be a better actress now that I’ve been on the other side and kind of understand the process and more of the technical aspects of it."

But don't expect Kiyoko to shift her full-time focus to directing. For now, she's content making music that inspire people to be themselves. And even more amazingly, she's doing it all herself like a true game changer.

"From day one, I’ve been running my own thing. I’m hiring producers, funding the tours, I’m doing this, I'm scheduling that, and I’m learning a lot," she said. "It’s tough. It’s a hustle. The music industry is such a different world from the acting world. Everything is really last minute, but I love the challenge and I love owning my material and being able to put out what I want."