Former teen star shares experiences with students
Hundreds of camera phones were trained on the former teen idol turned entrepreneur, humanitarian and mother when Hilary Duff stepped out to address students in the Sandhu Conference Center Tuesday.
Duff discussed her recent entrepreneurial pursuits, including creating a fragrance, writing a series of books and developing a television sitcom.
“I’ve worked my butt off, but I’ve been lucky,” Duff said. “I’m grateful that all of the things I’ve tried have been successful.”
Hilary Duff, best known for “Lizzie McGuire” and “A Cinderella Story,” visited Chapman Wednesday and spoke about her childhood, professional and personal struggles and life as a wife and mother. The event was hosted by the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), whose members filmed her live interview and broadcast it to 332 chapters at other schools.
NSLS President Monika Bik said approximately 400 students attended the event, which began with an interview with Duff, followed by a Q-and-A and book signing.
“[Duff] was very down-to-earth and giving of her time to answer questions,” Bik said. “We had a big turnout. I think the event was successful.”
Many students purchased her book, “Elixir,” for $18 and had it signed.
Senior film production major Almog Antonir said that he would not buy the book, but would encourage his younger sisters, who are bigger fans of hers, to purchase it.
“I’ve probably seen ‘The Lizzie McGuire Movie’ about 12 times because of my sisters,” Antonir said. “But I also respect her accomplishments as a singer and author.”
The host of the event, Alexis Jones, interviewed Duff for 45 minutes before the audience had a chance to ask questions. Jones said that she “got to grow up with [Duff],” referencing the popularity of “Lizzie McGuire,” which aired on Disney Channel from 2001-2004.
Jones asked Duff about her insecurities, struggles and regrets. Duff discussed the challenges of being followed by the paparazzi and starting in the entertainment industry at a young age, being typecast into certain roles after being strongly identified with Lizzie.
“I was tired of being Lizzie and wanted to be Hilary,” she said. “We were one and the same.”
Seeing Duff induced feelings of nostalgia in many of the event attendees, who idolized her when they were growing up.
“She was the queen of Disney,” said freshman television and broadcast journalism major Annalise Tahran. “I wanted to hear about Lizzie McGuire, so I’m glad she talked about her past, and also what she’s doing now.”
Duff gave advice to students hoping to break into the entertainment industry, recommending them to develop a thick skin to handle frequent rejection and to use unique avenues such as YouTube.
Duff was influenced by her childhood in Texas, close relationship with her sister, and her parents’ divorce when she was 18 years old. Jerry Price, vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students, said young people, especially college students, face similar struggles.
“Self-definition is important whether someone is famous or not,” Price said.
Duff said this was the first time she had spoken at a leadership event.
“I didn’t have the best education. I had an okay one,” she said. “I was educated in different ways.”