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Miley Cyrus performing

Miley Cyrus is Much More Than a Headline

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By Brian Hurwitz

From a young age, Miley Cyrus has always known precisely who she was. As unapologetic as she is inspirational, this child actor turned teen sensation turned international superstar is conquering the world one song at a time.

According to her family, Cyrus could sing before she could talk. Considering she’s sold more than 20 million albums and 55 million singles worldwide, it’s easy to believe. What’s even more amazing is that Cyrus was already idolized by millions of teenagers before establishing her recording career. In-between, this award-winning wonder has somehow found the time to appear in several feature films and to champion charitable causes close to her heart.

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The oldest child born to actor and producer Leticia Jean Finley and singer Billy Ray Cyrus, they named their daughter Destiny Hope Cyrus owing to their belief that she would one day accomplish great things. Smiling often as an infant, Cyrus’s family nicknamed her “Smiley,” later shortening it to “Miley.”

She grew up on the Cyrus family farm with her younger brother, Braison, younger sister, Noah, and her maternal half-siblings, Brandi and Trace, whom her father adopted upon marrying Cyrus’s mother. Owing to her parents’ careers, she developed an early interest in singing and acting. She made her professional debut as a guest star on an episode of her father’s show Doc, and then with a small role in Tim Burton’s fantasy adventure Big Fish. But it was her portrayal of the title character in the Disney Channel smash hit Hannah Montana that introduced her talents to an adoring public.

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Beating out more than 1,000 hopefuls, 11-year old Cyrus was initially rejected by the creators of the show because they felt she looked too young to play the part of a teenage girl whose secret identity was that of a pop superstar. However, after hearing Cyrus sing they immediately changed their minds. Hannah Montana premiered in the spring of 2006 to the largest audience ever for a Disney channel program and, by the end of the first season, was one of the highest-rated series on basic cable. It’s success led to Disney releasing a soundtrack CD in the fall of the same year that topped the Billboard 200 and became the eighth best-selling album of the year with over three million copies sold worldwide.

When Cyrus embarked on her Best of Both World’s Tour, Ticketmaster claimed there hadn’t been such an extraordinarily high demand for concert tickets since Elvis and The Beatles. The tour’s success led to the release of the 3D concert film Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert.

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In 2011, Hannah Montana was canceled by the Disney channel and Cyrus decided to forego attending college in order to focus on her career. The following year, Cyrus starred in the romantic comedy LOL and the action-comedy So Undercover. Simultaneously, she worked on her fourth studio album, Bangerz, with storied producers Pharrell Williams and Mike Will Made-It.

Starting in 2016, she became the youngest judge ever to appear on NBC’s hit musical competition, 'The Voice,' for its eleventh and twelfth seasons. During her second year, Cyrus’s sixth studio album, the country pop rock effort Younger Now (2017), debuted at number five on the Billboard 200.

Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth attend the People's Choice Awards
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To date, Cyrus has been an ardent supporter of 39 charities including Habitat for Humanity, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and PETA. And in 2014 she founded the Happy Hippie Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending youth homelessness with a particular focus on the LBGTQ community.

Cyrus’s dating life has long been a favorite subject of the mainstream media. She dated singer Nick Jonas from 2006-2007, then model Justin Gaston from 2008-2009. Soon after splitting with Gaston, she met actor Liam Hemsworth when they worked together on the romantic drama The Last Song. Despite maintaining an on-again, off-again relationship for years, the couple married shortly before Christmas in 2018. Sadly, they divorced a year later.

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