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Miley Cyrus

Women's Impact Report: Brand-Name Sensations

In an era beset by the rudderless, pantyless, drink-drenched shenanigans of latenight good-time girls, 15-year-old Miley Cyrus, at least for the time being, has managed to avoid tarnishing the glow of her ever-ascending career and that of her pop-sensation alter ego, Hannah Montana.

If the worst one can say about Cyrus is that she forgot to wear her seat belt, or that she posed for Vanity Fair wearing nothing more than a bed covering, she must be doing something right — actually, a few things: Her sold-out concert tour, hit 3-D movie and top-rated series on the Disney Channel, not to mention a line of toys, have propelled Cyrus into Forbes’ annual list of the wealthiest and most influential celebs, having reportedly earned more than $25 million over the past year.

In that context, it would seem the mega star would stick to the tried and true. But Cyrus tells Variety she’d like to evolve from the perky pop that is her staple and be considered a “rocker chick.”

“If I wasn’t me, I probably wouldn’t be listening to me,” says Cyrus, whose new album, “Breakout,” for which she composed all but two of the songs, was released in stores July 22. “I like the songs I write and perform, and they’re what I want to say, but I listen to other stuff — like Ben Folds and Melissa Etheridge, who’s very empowering.”

The notion of personal power has evidently struck a chord with Cyrus, who sometimes totes a Bible and who emphasizes as her main goal a desire to promote girls’ “self-confidence with body image.”

“You’re always going to think someone is better than you,” she says in her trademark rapid-fire delivery. “… I’m not perfect by any means, but everything I’m doing is successful, and I think it’s because my heart is in the right place.”

Cyrus, speaking on a crackly cell phone after a day’s shooting on a Malibu beach for “Hannah Montana: The Movie” (set for release in May and co-starring, as usual, her father, Billy Ray Cyrus), says while riding in a car through Malibu Canyon: “I’m very much blessed. … I don’t have to do anything I don’t feel is right. I’d never sign my life away — that’s a mistake some young people make.”

Role model: “Jesus.”

What I’m reading now: “Captivating,” by John and Stasi Eldredge.

If not Hillary, then who? “George Washington — let’s start over.”

Most important issue facing Americans in this election year: “Teenagers, people my age, who are on the street and can’t get off.”

Fave leisure activity: “Playing guitar on the beach, like I did today.”

Career mantra: “A trying time is no time to quit.”

Popular on Variety

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