Hannah Montana may have been Miley Cyrus’s breakout acting role but the gig caused an “identity crisis,” she revealed.
During a Friday episode of Spotify’s Rock This with Allison Hagendorf podcast, Cyrus said playing Miley Stewart, a teen who moonlights as a rockstar, on the Disney Channel television series in 2006, forced her to reckon with her self-perception after the series ended in 2011. “Talk about an identity crisis,” she said.
“The concept of the show is that when you’re this character, when you have this alter ego, you’re valuable. You’ve got millions of fans, you’re the biggest star in the world,” Cyrus told Hagendorf. “And then the concept was that when I looked like myself, when I didn’t have the wig on anymore, that no one cared about me. I wasn’t a star anymore. So that was drilled into my head [that] without being Hannah Montana, no one cares about you. That was the concept. I really had to break that.”
Cyrus, who was just 21 when her 2013 album Bangerz was released, admitted that her penchant for tongue wagging was a response to her frustration with being associated with Hannah Montana. The iconic pose was an attempt to separate herself from her previous image and even irk those who still viewed her as her Disney alter-ego.
“I almost created a characterized version of myself at times.…I never created a character where it wasn’t me, but I was aware of how people saw me, and I kind of played into it a little bit,” she said. “Like, when I noticed that people gave a shit that I would stick my tongue out, when they told me, ‘Stop sticking your fucking tongue out,’ I would do it more…when people are pissed, that means they care, so that makes you want to do it, too.”
In 2013, Cyrus admitted that sticking her tongue out was a nervous habit. “I get embarrassed to take pictures. That’s actually the truth,” she said during the Barbara Walters Presents: The 10 Most Fascinating People of 2013 special. “I’m so embarrassed, because people are taking pictures of me, and I just don’t know how to — I don’t know how to smile, and just be awkward, so I stick my tongue out, because I don’t know what else to do.”
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