Being a teen sensation can be exhausting. Just ask Miley Cyrus.
It means performing your current hit, “The Climb,” on “American Idol” and at the Academy of Country Music Awards, accepting a miniature orange blimp for favorite female singer at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, gracing the cover of the latest Glamour magazine, attending Hollywood premieres and starring in your own -- according to the teeny-bopper barometer -- wildly successful show.
It’s a lifestyle Cyrus has mastered. At a recent meet-and-greet with the media at the Four Seasons Hotel, she’s wide awake after having gotten little sleep the night before. And she’s gushing about her boyfriend in her gravelly voice as she checks her BlackBerry. She’s doing what she does best. She’s just being Miley.
“It’s so much fun,” said the 16-year-old superstar. “I have these amazing opportunities and I’m doing what I love.”
The frenzied schedule, which Cyrus chronicles on her Twitter account, is apt to get more chaotic as “Hannah Montana: The Movie,” a big-screen adaptation of the popular Disney series, hits theaters Friday. If the success of her 3-D concert movie, “Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds” -- which took in $31.1 million its opening weekend in February -- is any indication, fans (with parents in tow) are likely to swarm theaters to catch their favorite wig-wearing star. Or will they?
The movie’s soundtrack debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, selling 139,000 units -- a fraction of the opening numbers of Cyrus’ previous releases. And the recent less-than-rocking box-office opening of the “Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience” further calls into question whether the hysteria surrounding Disney’s most celebrated teen stars is calming. But Cyrus isn’t too worried.
“I think, you know, we’re at a bad time in our economy,” said the singer-actress, who takes time to compose her thoughts before answering questions. “There’s always doubt in my mind that this could all slip away overnight, but I try not to dwell on it. I definitely don’t want to go out and say this is going to be the biggest movie of the year because I’ll just be setting myself up for a downfall.”
In the film, directed by Peter Chelsom (“Shall We Dance,” “Serendipity”), Miley Stewart’s growing ego over rising popularity as her secret pop-star persona Hannah Montana makes it difficult for her to manage school, friends and her career. To teach her a lesson, Stewart’s dad takes the teen home to Crowley Corners, Tenn., to reflect on what matters in life.
It’s the kind of move Cyrus said she would welcome in her own life, should the time ever come for it.
“The moment she’s not happy doing what she’s doing and the moment she says, ‘Daddy, let’s go back to the farm,’ then I’ll be the first guy to load up the truck and drive her there,” said dad Billy Ray Cyrus, who also costars with her on “Hannah Montana.”
But for now, the media whirlwind continues. In addition to the film, Cyrus recently released her autobiography “Miles to Go,” which begins with her sixth-grade year and chronicles her road to Disney stardom. It offers a toned-down look at the media darling who is a frequent target of tabloid fodder.
“I think she gets a raw deal when it comes to some of her publicity,” said Jason Earles, who plays Jackson in the series and the film. “America loves watching the fall as much as the ascension. To think that she can be perfect all of the time is just silly.”
Silly or not, the criticisms don’t stop -- whether she’s being slammed for dating 20-year-old model Justin Gaston or blasted for what some claim were fake tears during her acceptance speech at the 2009 Kids’ Choice Awards. And it doesn’t stop there. The wholesome teen idol has had a fair share of photo controversies: There was a provocative Vanity Fair spread, self-portraits of a scantily clad Cyrus that circulated in cyberspace and a photo that some viewed as racially insensitive because Cyrus is shown pulling her eyes into a slanted position.
“I want to be a role model,” Cyrus said. “And my job is to be a role model. But that shouldn’t require me to be a parent. I’m going to make mistakes. While your kids are growing up, I have to grow up too.”
The process may be accelerated. Cyrus in June will begin shooting Nicholas Sparks’ “The Last Song,” based on a book and script that were tailor-made to help her grow into adulthood. But fans need not worry. Cyrus isn’t hanging up her wig just yet.
“It’s not like we’re ending this year,” Cyrus said. “Everyone, sort of, you know, puts it on my shoulders, like it’s my job to pick up the episodes . . . and it’s not. I’ll do whatever Disney wants. It is Disney that has the ultimate final say.”
But that doesn’t mean Cyrus is blinded by reality.
“I can’t be 30 and sporting the wig. At some point, you move on.”