Miley Cyrus got her start playing a teenager-by-day-pop-star-by-night on Disney’s wildly popular Hannah Montana. Despite the show’s massive success, Cyrus admits she was underpaid.
In her Elle cover story, Cyrus opened up about playing Miley Stewart for four seasons until the show came to an end in 2011. The actress admitted that she felt like her dreams were coming true, but it quickly became a nightmare when Disney started taking advantage of her. Even as the star of the show, Miley was allegedly making the least amount of money out of anyone on the cast.
“I did not grow up spoiled in any way,” she said. “I just wanted to be on TV. I mean, at one point—they’ll probably kill me for saying it—I was probably the least paid person on my cast because I didn’t know any better. I was just like, ‘I can be on Disney! Yeah, I want to do it!'”
Even Miley’s own father, Billy Ray Cyrus didn’t have the show business knowledge to protect her. Though he was technically “in the industry,” Miley admits that “he so wasn’t.”
“My name was Miley on my show, but I didn’t own my name—we didn’t think about that. Like, ‘Yeah, you can use my name on your show, sure!’ My mom started understanding how many people take advantage of a child, so she hired smart people to protect me in that way. I’m happy that when I was younger, people protected me and put me in a position where I can now control my music,” she said.
Miley also reflected on how difficult it was to grow up in the spotlight, and how it made her more understanding of other people.
“When I look at my little sister, who’s 16, I don’t judge her for anything she does because I remember where I was at that time. I was such an emotional person—I’m still such an emotional person—but I was trying to find out who I was,” she said. “You go through these stages, especially in our industry.”
“Paparazzi always made me really uncomfortable. You’re growing up and you look weird sometimes. My zits were all crazy; I’ve gone through some hair trauma,” Miley says. “That’s how I started sticking out my tongue in pictures. Because I hate everyone being so serious,” she continued.
Miley admitted she was a bit selfish when she was a teen because “there’s so much self-exploration, you’re in your own mind.” She’s since become a vegetarian who doesn’t wear leather or fur.
As a 23-year-old the Voice coach sees the world in a much different different perspective and sees her life as constantly changing.
“I was watching this documentary about dragonflies—they go from this crunchy little larva to this crazy dragonfly. So why can’t we do that?” she asks. “If we’re so smart and so much better than all the animals, and man rules the world, why can’t we just change all the time from, like, a caterpillar to a butterfly? I just don’t think I’m doing enough—which everyone around me would kill me for saying, because I definitely can take it too far.”
Miley’s issue of Elle hits stands in October.