Miley Cyrus opens up on TikTok about her grueling work schedule as a child actor

It seems working for Disney or Nickelodeon came with extreme costs


A head-on headshot of Miley Cyrus.Photo: Arturo Holmes via Getty Images

Nicole Clark (she/her) is a culture editor at Polygon, and a critic covering internet culture, video games, books, and TV, with work in the NY Times, Vice, and Catapult.

In a series of TikToks to promote her new single “Used To Be Young,” Miley Cyrus shared stories from her childhood as a kid actor on Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana. Her intense work schedule echoes much of what we now know about the grueling working conditions that child actors dealt with, as they shot up to stardom.

Montana | Miley Maniacs | Page 3

“This is a schedule,” Cyrus explains, at the start of the video, before detailing her day’s events as a 12 or 13-year-old. At 5:30a.m., she’d get hair and makeup done in a hotel, at 7:15a.m. she’d have her first live interview followed by another three interviews, each 30 minutes after the last. After an hour and a half meeting with editors; she then had five more interviews and two photoshoots — including one over lunch — before flying home, to shoot episodes of Hannah Montana immediately on the following Monday. It’s an intense work schedule, especially for a kid.

Cyrus is just one of a number of famous 2000s kid actors who are using their platforms to reflect on their fame, and the demanding schedule it required. Earlier this year, Wednesday star Jenna Ortega talked on the Armchair Expert podcast about the “crazy, crazy hours” she worked as the star of Disney’s Stuck in the Middle. In June, Christy Carlson Romano, star of Even Stevens, told Fox News that child actors deserve better protections.

And it’s not just Disney. In Jennette McCurdy’s firebrand memoir I’m Glad My Mom Died, published just over a year ago, the actress who portrayed Sam Puckett on iCarly and Sam & Cat wrote candidly about her time as a child actress. During those years, she suffered abuse at the hands of a controlling mom, and a toxic work environment at the hands of a showrunner she refers to as “The Creator,” who readers widely regard to be Dan Schneider. She also writes about her desire to transition into writing and directing, a career move which never materialized for her, during her time at Nickelodeon.

Cyrus also dug into a bit of the friction between her own creative ambition and the Hannah Montana brand. Like other Disney and Nickelodeon era stars, she penned her own music, only to have her record label prioritize the music under her Disney persona. “My record label told me that this song wasn’t going to be a hit,” she said of her 2007 single “See You Again.” She added: “my fans decided otherwise.”

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