Miley Cyrus

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"Being famous is like a dream come true, but it's really difficult because you lose your freedom. I don't want to lose being a kid," said Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus
 

Since finding fame at the age of 12, the child star has come a long way. She has shed her Disney princess persona in her evolution from teen idol to edgy young woman.

Destiny Hope Cyrus was born on 23 November 1992 in Franklin, Tennessee to Nineties country star Billy Ray Cyrus – of Achy Breaky Heart fame – and his wife Leticia (Tish).

The smiling youngster was given the nickname 'Smiley' which was eventually shortened to Miley (she officially changed her name in May 2008).

Home was a 500-acre farm in Nashville which Miley shared with her parents and five siblings. While her dad was by now something of a recluse, the little girl grew up with a very famous 'fairy godmother' – Dolly Parton.

When she was eight, the family moved to Toronto while Billy Ray returned to showbiz with an acting role in the sitcom series Doc. It was then that Miley decided she wanted to follow in her father's footsteps.

"I'd see those little tears come down her face and I'd hold her and say, 'Enjoy being a kid. There is too much headache to mess up your childhood," Billy Ray later told People of his daughter's early auditions and rejections. "(But) she kept stepping up to the plate, and danggone, the right opportunity came at the right time."

Miley's first appeared on screen as a guest star in Doc, before she was cast alongside Ewan McGregor and Helena Bonham-Carter in Tim Burton's Big Fish in 2003 – her first film role, as 'Young Ruthie' was credited to Destiny Cyrus.

She then auditioned for the lead role in new Disney series, Hannah Montana. She was initially rejected for being "too small, too young", but her persistence paid off.

Miley got a call back, and went on to win the part, playing an average teen who has a double life as a pop star. Billy Ray was cast as her dad.

Disney Channel executive Gary Marsh, described Miley as having the "everyday reliability of Hilary Duff and the stage presence of Shania Twain".

Hannah Montana was an instant hit, going on to become cable's most watched show for children aged six to 14 and propelling Miley to teen idol status.

What's more, it became the perfect showcase for her singing talent, and its soundtrack also debuted at number one, eventually going triple platinum.

In 2007, Miley released a follow-up album, Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus, which sold 1.1 million copies. She also embarked on a 54-date Best of Both Worlds concert tour, performing as herself and her Hannah Montana character.

It wasn't just her music making headlines that year. Miley's personal life was very much in the spotlight too.

In July 2007, she started dating Nick Jonas, 14, the youngest member of the Jonas Brothers – it was a match made in teen pop heaven. "Nick and I loved each other," she later told Seventeen. "For two years he was basically my 24/7."

In 2008, Miley released her second studio album, under her own name. Breakout included eight tracks co-written by the star, who was by now ready to move away from her Disney roots.

"Songwriting is what I really want to do with my life forever," she said at the time. "I just hope this record showcases that, more than anything, I'm a writer." It also debuted at number one on the US Billboard chart.

Miley's transition from family-friendly teen to independent young woman was now underway, and in 2008, she took further steps to distinguish herself from her Disney persona.

Her representatives got in touch with novelist Nicholas Sparks who had writen a screenplay based on his novel The Last Song, with the idea that the coming of age drama would be a stepping stone for the starlet.

That same year, she topped the box office and the charts with Hannah Montana: The Movie and the film's soundtrack.

Describing the Hannah Montana film as "very clever", the talented teen told People that she was happy fans had embraced her as Miley – not just as Hannah.

It's just an honour for people to be able to relate to me and my music – and not so much the character anymore," she said. "I can't be Hannah Montana for ever. I have to have something after this."

Meanwhile, the star, then 15, was seeing model Justin Gaston, five years her senior. They didn't go the distance, however, and in June 2009, Miley announced their split on Twitter, writing, "Tears are words the heart can't express".

Later that year, she was snapped kissing Liam Hemsworth, her co-star on The Last Song. "I've never gotten along with someone so well," Miley said of the handsome Aussie.

It was a fiery relationship, however, and one punctuated by splits and reunions. In 2012, Liam, 22, asked Miley to marry him, with a 3.5 carat diamond ring.

Everything seemed on track for the star, until rumours of trouble surfaced in 2013. Following reports that Liam had enjoyed a night out with January Jones at a pre-Oscars party, Miley defended their romance and denied suggestions she had called off the wedding.

Miley's love life isn't the only topic that has made headlines over the years. From underage drinking, smoking Salvia and risqué personal snaps to shaving and bleaching her hair, the star has courted controversy – but that's just fine with Miley. 

Hollywood's million-dollar baby says she has always tried to remain true to herself, even if that meant shedding her squeaky clean image at an early age.

"Some of the worst thing that have happened in my career, like things getting leaked, have actually been what's best for me, because people knew when I was on that show that I was really growing up," she told Cosmopolitan in 2013.

Miley added: "I never faked anything. I never played the Disney game of smiling and being a princess and then suddenly having a hard time, saying, 'That isn't who I really am.'"
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