Hilary Duff is, without a doubt, one of the most beloved celebs in the world. With a career dating back to the late ’90s, an entire generation has grown up with the star. She’s always been adored, thanks to a successful film career as well as roles on hit shows like Lizzie McGuire, Gossip Girl, and Younger, but she endeared herself even more to her many fans in August 2019 when it was announced that a Lizzie McGuire reboot would be hitting streaming service Disney+ (via Entertainment Weekly).
Thanks to her decades-long career, many fans feel like they already know Duff, but there’s more to her than meets the eye. She’s certainly changed a lot over the years, from her child star days to life as a 30-something juggling motherhood and a successful career. Duff only seems to get more popular as the years go by. Here’s a closer look at how she’s transformed throughout her impressive career.
Hilary Duff auditioned for years before landing her big break
It’s hard to remember a time when Hilary Duff wasn’t famous. The millennial generation grew up with the actress and remember her years as a child star. It seems like she’s always been on our televisions, but it took years of hard work for Duff to break into the acting industry. Duff followed in older sister Haylie’s footsteps when she started acting in preschool. Duff soon starting going on auditions of her own. After the sisters were cast in a few commercials, they moved with their mother to Los Angeles for pilot season, leaving their father in their home state of Texas and returning home to visit every few weeks. Their mother told Rolling Stone that the decision to pursue the arts was something her daughters chose for themselves and not something they were pushed into. "My husband and I were never involved in anything artistic, so it was never anything we focused on," she said.
After many unsuccessful auditions, the Duff women were ready to call it quits and move back to Texas when Duff landed the lead role on Lizzie McGuire. The rest is history.
Finding out she was famous as a kid was "a little scary" for Hilary Duff
Hilary Duff’s IMDb page lists her first non-commercial role as 1997’s True Women, in which the young actress (who was born in 1987) was an uncredited extra. She told Seventeen, though, that her career truly started with the 1998 straight-to-video cult classic Casper Meets Wendy. In the years that followed, Duff racked up a few more credits, but didn’t achieve true fame until 2002 when Lizzie McGuire debuted. The Disney show didn’t just prove to be Duff’s big break, but it also elevated her to bonafide celeb status and thrust her into the spotlight with little warning.
Duff described the moment she realized she was famous to BuzzFeed: "Lizzie McGuire aired and that weekend I went to go meet my friends at the mall, and I literally had to hide in a janitor’s closet. It was like the craziest thing. I had to call my mom from the closet." She added, "It was really crazy. It was actually a little scary."
Lizzie McGuire made it harder for Hilary Duff to transition to more adult roles
Even though Lizzie McGuire transformed Hilary Duff’s career, the role did come with some setbacks. Playing the wholesome girl-next-door meant that Duff experienced a lot of typecasting after leaving the show, especially in those first few years post-Lizzie McGuire. "In the beginning I definitely dealt with a lot of that," she told Time in 2015. "Even now with certain movie roles, I’ll go and get amazing feedback and won’t always get the role. There’s definitely a stereotype because of my past, starting so young and people growing up with me."
Duff kept fighting to find roles that let her grow as an actress, though. She was excited to join the cast of Younger in 2015, which gave her the chance to play a more mature, edgier character. "This show came at a good time and got me really excited where others hadn’t," she said.
Being the first of her friends to have a baby was "isolating" for Hilary Duff
At the age of 22, Hilary Duff married hockey player Mike Comrie. "I had already been working as an adult since I was 12 years old," the actress told Us Weekly of marrying young. "So 22 doesn’t seem that crazy to get married."
At the age of 24, Duff gave birth to their son, Luca. The transition to motherhood was difficult for the actress. "I’d say it was a little isolating in the beginning because I didn’t have any friends that had babies yet," she told Motherly. "But I had been working for such a long time that it felt like a natural step for me and I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I always knew that was going to be my number one priority in life."
In spite of the challenges, Duff said that becoming a mom transformed her life. "You know I knew it was the most important, biggest job in the world but you know it looks very different once you’re just in the household with the baby by yourself all the time… it was also the happiest, most beautiful experience."
Hilary Duff’s divorce made her rethink relationships
She might be famous and talented, but, like the rest of us, Hilary Duff has had ups and downs in her love life. The actress went through a divorce in 2015, but she took it in stride. "I don’t want to sound bitter because I’m definitely not, but I don’t know if people are meant to be together forever," she told Cosmopolitan after the split was announced. "Things happen over a long relationship that you can’t always fight. A marriage of 20 years, the accomplishment of that must feel really great, but there are also huge sacrifices. I just always want to fight for happiness."
It looks like Duff kept fighting because, in May 2019, the actress announced on Instagram that she became engaged to singer-songwriter Matthew Koma, with whom she shared a child, as she gave birth to their daughter, Banks, in October 2018. A few months before Koma popped the question, Duff told Entertainment Weekly that they aren’t in a rush to get married.
Hilary Duff’s embarrassed about this song from her past
Just like Lizzie McGuire herself, Hilary Duff has done some things that she’s embarrassed about. She’s grown a lot as an artist since the early years of her career, and she looks back on some of her work with regret, like the start of musical career. "There’s a lot on Metamorphosis that I wish I could forget, but then so many people come up to me like, ‘That album was everything to me,’" she told BuzzFeed. "And they always call out the most embarrassing songs, like there’s this song called ‘The Math’ and I don’t get it at all. That’s like one of my most embarrassing moments in life."
Duff added that filming Lizzie McGuire could be embarrassing (remember the episode where Lizzie screams that she wants a bra?) but that she finds the show funny today. "All the episodes are kind of like an embarrassing memory book, but none of them really haunt me," she said.
Hilary Duff learned to balance music and acting careers
Hilary Duff keeps super busy with her acting career, but she’s also still passionate about music. In 2015, she made the decision to revive her singing career after a nearly decade-long hiatus, dropping the album Breath In. Breath Out. "It’s tough," the multi-talented Duff told Time in 2015 about balancing her acting and singing careers. "I put some music out last year, and right when I put my single out, we started filming [Younger]. So it was a little bad timing because I really didn’t get a chance to properly promote my single after being out of the music game for seven years. But it was good."
According to Discogs, Duff paused any new music releases after dropping the single "Little Lies" in 2016, but we’re hopeful that we’ll hear more music from her. "I feel like I got a little taste of it again and it got me excited," she said in her Time interview. "It’s just a balancing act of trying to have two careers that take up a lot of my time. And also being a mom — the most important one for me."
This is how Hilary Duff’s crushing motherhood
Hilary Duff puts her kids first and foremost in her life. It isn’t always easy to balance her music and acting careers with motherhood, but Duff is managing to crush both her professional life and motherhood. The key to this, she says, is making sure that she looks after herself. "It’s really important to take care of ourselves as moms because we spread ourselves so thin," she told My Domaine. "If we break down, who will keep it all running smoothly?"
Duff stressed the importance of staying positive, even when parenting is rough. "One thing I try to say to myself is Savor the moment; it all goes by so fast — even the really hard days or nights," she said.
The actress also urged other moms not to be too hard on themselves. "Remember you’re doing a good job — it’s a lot of pressure being a new mom," she said.
Hilary Duff decided to move on from her literary career
Many people forget that Hilary Duff had a literary career back in the 2010s. Her debut novel, Elixir, is a paranormal romance. "I have been writing songs and poems since I was a little girl," she told Seventeen in 2010. "I started writing short scripts, which evolved into the idea for a book."
According to the publisher’s website, Elixir hit the New York Times bestseller list and was followed by two sequels. In spite of her literary success, Duff says that she doesn’t have any plans for more sequels or another series. "I don’t have any plans to write any more books," Duff told BuzzFeed in 2018. "It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done."
For now, at least, it looks like Duff is focusing on her other endeavors, and we can’t really blame her for wanting to let one of her many careers go. She is, after all, juggling quite a lot with acting, music, and motherhood!
Hilary Duff escaped the child star curse
While many former child stars go through a wild phase, Hilary Duff has remained down-to-earth throughout her career. According to BET, Duff has pretty much steered clear of scandal, aside from a 2019 controversy where some people accused her of child abuse for piercing her 8-month-old daughter’s ears.
"Hilary is personally a modest young woman," Duff’s mom told Rolling Stone in 2003, when the actress was 15. "She does not need to go around exposing herself. What you see is what you get with Hilary, basically. It almost sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?"
In a 2015 interview with Cosmopolitan (via Us Weekly), Duff said that she never felt like she had to "wild out" to prove that she was an adult. She added that, at the age of 19, she made a conscious decision to eliminate negativity from her life and dropped a lot of friends. "That was really hard, to sit down with people and say ‘We can’t be friends anymore,’" she said. "They were like ‘That’s f***ed up; you’re a b****.’ But having a good reputation was important to me."
Hilary Duff struggled with her body image for years
Even though she managed to escape the child star curse, Hilary Duff didn’t come out of her childhood completely unscathed. Living life in the public eye still took its toll on Duff, as did growing up in an industry that is obsessed with physical appearance. There was a time in her life when she struggled with her body image and made unhealthy choices. "When I was 17, I weighed, like, 98 pounds," she told Health. "I was totally obsessed with everything I put in my mouth. I was way too skinny. Not cute. And my body wasn’t that healthy — my hands would cramp up a lot because I wasn’t getting the nutrition I needed."
Fortunately, Duff has a much healthier relationship with her body these days and isn’t so hard on herself. "That constant pressure of wanting something different than I had? I regret that," she said. "I feel like there was way too much time spent thinking about that."
The actress added that she now accepts herself for who she is. "This is the body that I have," she said. "And I feel good about myself."
Hilary Duff’s fitness and diet habits are totally relatable
Hilary Duff may have a stunning physique that many would be jealous of, but she doesn’t have a rigorous diet and exercise plan to maintain it. Instead, it seems she can mostly chalk up her figure to genetics. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t take care of herself, though. Duff has a workout routine… sort of. "I don’t do auto-gym," she told Shape. "I go three times a week and mix it up every time. I work out with weighted balls, battle ropes, and big rubber bands. I do this thing with a sledgehammer where I swing it and hit a rubber block, and it gets out all of my aggressions. Everyone is like, ‘Uh-oh, Hilary’s got the hammer — get out of the way!’"
She’s also all about eating food that tastes good. There are no fad diets for this celeb. "I rely on grown-woman food," said Duff. "I’d rather have someone pull my fingernails off than hunker down and go on an actual diet."
For Hilary Duff, it’s all about balance… and cheese
The secret to living a happy life is balance, says Hilary Duff. At least, that’s what she told StyleCaster. "I think when I feel balanced with family and work and having enough time for myself, that is happiness to me," she told the outlet. "Cause those are all elements that mean everything to me, so when it’s just cruising along at a nice balanced pace, I think I feel my most happy."
The actress appreciates the simpler things in life, too. In an interview with Shape she revealed a much different (and likely tongue-in-cheek) secret to being happy. "The key to a happy life is cheese," she said. "It’s a real problem. I can’t say no to it! There’s a cheese shop in Beverly Hills, and my car is like a magnet to it. Luca is crazy about it, too. Love the cheese!"
Hilary Duff was happy to join the Lizzie McGuire reboot
Fans were psyched at the announcement that Hilary Duff would be reprising her breakthrough role in a Lizzie McGuire reboot. Duff seemed just as excited about the show, which picks up as Lizzie is about to turn 30, but she wasn’t always so enthusiastic about the idea of bringing back the iconic series. "Honestly, the idea sounded terrible two years ago when reboots were happening, but you never know," she told BuzzFeed in 2018. "I don’t know. I loved Lizzie McGuire and it might be really fun to see where she is now."
Thank goodness Duff changed her mind, as she’s excited to share the adult Lizzie with the world. "She’s everyone’s best friend and what everyone loves about her is how relatable she is, so I really wanna go on that 30-year-old journey with everybody," she told Entertainment Weekly.