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Miley Cyrus' fame from Billy Ray's daughter to Disney, 'pushing sexual boundaries,' topless photo drama
September 01 2023, 08:00

Miley Cyrus quickly became a household name when she was cast as the lead role in "Hannah Montana" in 2005 – and the now-30-year-old is looking back at her milestone moments in a new TikTok series.

Cyrus, who has lived the majority of her life in the spotlight, played Miley Stewart on the Disney show at 13, and her image has drastically evolved over the years from how people first met her: a young, child actor on "Hannah Montana."

Meanwhile, Miley's romantic relationship with Liam Hemsworth made headlines for over a decade, and the "Flowers" singer's parents divorce – Tish and Billy Ray Cyrus – was front and center in the media, as have been their new romances.

In the superstar's new TikTok series, which goes by the name of her new single "Used To Be Young," Cyrus breaks down pivotal moments in her life, including the scandalous, topless photo that broke the internet when she was a teenager. 


She also touches on her childhood acting days and how certain events shaped her into the person she is today. 

Here is a look at Miley's road to fame and some of the major events that have happened along the way.

Cyrus made her debut as Miley Stewart on Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana" when she was just 13 years old.

Her lead role as a high school student leading a double life as a pop star skyrocketed Cyrus to international fame. Her real-life father, Billy Ray Cyrus, starred as her on-screen dad, Robby Ray Stewart, on "Hannah Montana" for all four seasons.

The series was on air from 2006-2011. Miley has been outspoken about how her most famous role shaped her and how she was struggling with her own identity while being a role model to millions of young girls.

In her new TikTok series, Miley touched on her "Hannah Montana" days and said that sometimes she feels like her "life started" when the hit Disney show went on air.

"Sometimes it feels like my life started when Hannah Montana was born. But before Hannah there was Miley," the first video in the TikTok series caption read. "My fantasy was to light up the world with laughter, music & iconic moments that last beyond my lifetime. Decades later I continue to fulfill my purpose because of the love provided by my fans."

The caption continued, "This series ‘Used To Be Young’ is inspired by my new single. Looking back on my life & sharing untold stories from 1992 until now. Let’s start at the beginning…. Forever, Miley."

Included in Miley's new TikTok series is a segment where she broke down her intense schedule while starring on "Hannah Montana."


"5:30 a.m.?!" Cyrus exclaimed, reading a list of one day's engagements. 

"I’m probably 12 or 13. Friday, January 5, 5:30 a.m. — hair and makeup in my hotel. 7 a.m. — we get picked up. 7:15 a.m. — I’m on the news. 7:45 — I have another live interview. 8:15 — another interview. 8:45 — another interview. 9:30 to 11 a.m. — meeting with editors, back to the hotel."

She noted that she had several more interviews and photo shoots with the day wrapping at around 6 p.m.

Cyrus touched on her relationship with her father, country music legend Billy Ray Cyrus, in her new TikTok series.

"We’re looking at top country songs in 1992," Cyrus began in a video uploaded to the social media platform. "When I was born, my dad had the No. 1 country song. When I see the numbers, I just see the humans behind it enjoying the music, and I just see people and numbers."

Cyrus dove into how her father views fame differently from her, and how his childhood comes into play.

"My dad grew up the opposite of me," she began. "I think that’s where me and my dad’s relationship to fame and success is wildly different. Him feeling loved by a big audience impacted him emotionally more than it ever could me."

Cyrus continued, "When he feels special or important, it’s like healing a childhood wound, and I've always been made to feel like a star — it makes me emotional. I think that’s the difference."

She then shared a clip of Billy Ray Cyrus playing the guitar when she was a kid.

"I do have a lot of great memories singing music with my dad and learning like and absorbing, and I think I can see my wheels turning and watching his voice and the way that he’s using the instrument," Miley continued. "I will say that I feel vocally my dad was underappreciated."

Cyrus' first hit song, "Party in the U.S.A," debuted and peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart in 2009 – the year it was released – for 28 consecutive weeks.

Cyrus' song reappeared at No. 50 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart this June. She has reportedly made $10 million off of the hit song.

In 2020, Cyrus was a guest on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," where she talked about the insanely popular hit.

"One thing that’s become pretty amazing about ‘Party in the USA’ is it’s become a song that represents victory," she said at the time. "It’s played when teams win baseball and all different sports. It always ends up charting."

Cyrus continued, "When you write a song or create a song like ‘Party in the U.S.A.,’ you never know what it’s going to become or what it will represent 10 years later."

One year prior to the release of "Party In The U.S.A.," Cyrus was seen in a topless Vanity Fair picture that broke the internet in 2008.

"We gotta go there," she began in a new video from her TikTok series of the viral moment. "Everyone knows the controversy of the photo, but they don’t really know the behind-the-scenes, which is always much more meaningful."

Cyrus continued, "My little sister, Noah, was sitting on Annie [Leibovitz]'s lap and actually pushing the button of the camera, taking the pictures. My family was on set."

What she remembers most from the photo shoot has nothing to do with the scandalous photo, but it marked "the first time" she ever wore red lipstick. 

"Because Patti Dubroff, who did my makeup, thought that that would be another element that would divide me from ‘Hannah Montana,’" Cyrus added.

On why the picture caused outrage, Cyrus said it was because she was stepping away from the innocent image seen on "Hannah Montana."

"This image of me is a complete opposite of the bubblegum pop star that I had been known for being and that’s what was so upsetting," she said. "But — really brilliant choices, looking back now, from those people."


In 2018, Miley addressed the backlash on X, formerly known as Twitter, calling out publications that slammed her for the photo shoot. "IM NOT SORRY," she captioned the post at the time, adding, "F--- YOU #10yearsago."

Cyrus proved that her image was wildly changing after her 2013 MTV Video Music Award performance with Robin Thicke.

Cyrus wore a nude, two-piece outfit and used a foam finger during her performance, which incorporated twerking on Thicke. The performance sparked outrage from viewers who still linked the musician to the person they saw on their screen in "Hannah Montana."

In 2018, Cyrus spoke to Wonderland magazine about how the 2013 performance shaped her life.

"Not only was culture changed, but my life and career were changed forever," she told the outlet at the time. "It inspired me to use my platform for something much bigger. If the world is going to focus on me and what I am doing, then what I am doing should be impactful and it should be great."

The same year, Cyrus released one of her other most well-known songs, "Wrecking Ball."

The iconic music video – which has over 1 billion views on YouTube – showed the singer physically (and figuratively) destroying the image she was well known for. 

The year "Wrecking Ball" was released, Cyrus and longtime, off-and-on boyfriend, Liam Hemsworth, decided to end their relationship, before reconnecting a few years later. 

In an interview in 2020, Cyrus expanded on "Wrecking Ball" and told Apple Music's Zane Lowe that it allowed her to push "sexual boundaries" for the first time.

"I had to, like, experience heartbreak to get to that song. I had to live it," Cyrus told Lowe during an episode of Apple Music's Essentials Radio. "Again, it wasn't a song that got sent to me on a demo and I just go 'cut it.' I was living it publicly."

She continued, "And again, getting shamed at that time for the nudity in the video, and me pushing sexual boundaries, and beginning to experiment, being a pro-weed activist -- and it was just all of it at the time."

Cyrus shared that she does not regret any decisions or hardships in her life because she views herself as a person who perseveres.

"But I look at my life, I don't like even to say the span of my career because I like looking at my life as a whole from the beginning and the end, and I persevere," she said. "I've been through my relationship ... and perseverance is a word that I relate to, and I'm proud of, and glad that it can describe me as a person."

In 2018, Cyrus and Hemsworth tied the knot after losing their Malibu home in a wildfire. They first met on the set of the 2010 film "The Last Song" and became engaged in 2012, only to end their relationship in September 2013.

They rekindled their romance in 2015.

Fast-forward four years later, Hemsworth filed for divorce in 2019. Miley and Liam's divorce was finalized in 2020.

Cyrus dropped her bombshell song, "Flowers," earlier this year, which some fans have linked to her relationship with Hemsworth.

Cyrus' 2023 song "Flowers" is all about how she can do things for herself with lyrics that include, "I can buy myself flowers / Write my name in the sand / Talk to myself for hours / Say things you don't understand / I can take myself dancing / And I can hold my own hand / Yeah, I can love me better than you can."

In 2020, Miley was a guest on "The Howard Stern Show," where she shared details behind her separation from Hemsworth.

Cyrus noted that after the couple's Malibu home was destroyed in the wildfires during their engagement, she "lost everything."

"Me being an intense person and not wanting to sit with it and not wanting to go, you know, 'What could be purposeful about this?' I just clung to what I had left of that house, which was me and him," Cyrus told Stern at the time. "And I really do and did love him very, very, very much and still do, always will."

She said that "there was too much conflict" in their relationship. "When I come home, I want to be anchored by someone," Cyrus explained. "I don't get off on drama or fighting."

Another high-profile figure who has been a big part of Cyrus' life is country music legend Dolly Parton, who happens to be Cyrus' godmother. Parton was given the role due to her close relationship with Billy Ray Cyrus.

The "Jolene" singer made appearances on "Hannah Montana" and has been very supportive of Cyrus, especially when she decided to change her image.

In 2014, Parton told Us Weekly, "She [Miley] was spectacular on that, but she just needed and wanted so bad to break out of that and wanted to become Miley Cyrus and she tried every way in the world to do it and nobody would let her go. So, she just had to resort to extreme measures but she pulled it off."

Parton added, "She's a very smart and talented girl and I really hope she does as great as I think she can and will because she's a lot more gifted than a lot of people realize right now."

In 2013, Cyrus told Cosmopolitan that Parton helped her stay grounded as she grew up in the limelight.

"I was a kid when I started – I turned 13 on the 'Hannah Montana' set – and maybe that's affected my attitude; if it happened now, you'd overthink it," Cyrus told the outlet. "A lot of [famous] people get what I call 'new money syndrome' – where they didn't grow up with money, and they're so scared of losing it that they become obsessed."

She continued, "Dolly Parton's my godmother. She's taught me a lot about how you treat people. She always says hi to the person on the bottom of the call sheet. I love that."

In August, Cyrus, as well as her mother Tish's two children -- Brandi, 36, and Trace, 34, from a previous relationship – attended Tish's wedding to "Prison Break" actor Dominic Purcell at Cyrus' Malibu home. Noticeably absent were Billy Ray and Tish's two other children: Braison, 29 and Noah, 23.

In 2022, Tish filed for divorce from Billy Ray, citing "irreconcilable differences," according to court documents obtained by Fox News Digital at the time. 

The couple shared a joint statement with People magazine, which read, "It is after 30 years, five amazing children and a lifetime of memories, we have decided to go our separate ways — not with sadness, but with love in our hearts," the outlet reported.

"We have grown up together, raised a family we can be so proud of, and it is now time to create our own paths."

"We will always be family and look forward to a continued and loving shared experience as friends and parents. We have not come to this decision lightly or quickly but with so much going on in the world, we wanted to provide some clarity and closure, so we can remain focused on what is important," the statement added. "With Love and Hope… Tish and Billy Ray Cyrus."

Tish and Billy Ray tied the knot in 1993. 

This is not the first time the couple has initiated divorce proceedings. Billy Ray first filed for divorce in 2010, but ended up withdrawing his petition months later.


In Nov. 2022, Billy Ray announced his engagement to singer Firerose, who is 27 years his junior.

As for her taking her career on the road, fans won’t be seeing Cyrus on tour anytime soon.

The "Flowers" singer revealed that touring took a toll on her health and the demands of performing on the road are just too high. 

"The show or the competition may only be a day, and that’s what people don’t really understand about touring. The show is only 90 minutes, but that’s your life," Cyrus said on her new "Used to Be Young" TikTok series.


"If you’re performing at a certain level of intensity and excellence, there should be an equal amount of recovery and rest."

Cyrus has not toured since her 2014 Bangerz tour. She continued to explain why she prefers to perform at music festivals and television appearances instead.

"There’s a level of ego that has to play a part, that I feel gets overused when I’m on tour and once that switches on, it’s hard to turn it off," she continued.

"Having every day the relationship between you and other humans being subject and observer isn’t healthy for me, because it erases my humanity and my connection… without my humanity, my connection, I can’t be a songwriter, which is my priority," Miley concluded.