At just 14 years old, Hilary Duff became a household name when she was cast as the lovable lead in “Lizzie McGuire.” As her character was coming of age on screen, so was the actress herself, along with the loyal legion of tween viewers who watched her on television.
The generation of girls who grew up with the actress can still follow her celebrated career, which has included making music, penning novels, launching nonprofits, and designing clothing.
Now, two decades later, Duff is all grown up and still playing “funny, ambitious, outspoken, openhearted women” on screen (via The New York Times). And when she’s not filming “How I Met Your Father,” the Peacock series where she stars as the leading lady, she’s raising her three children at the Los Angeles home she shares with her husband, Matthew Koma.
Even though her biggest fans may think they know all there is to learn about the Texas native, who has 15 tattoos and inspired a TikTok challenge, here are some things we discovered about the talented star.
She started working at the age of 6
Although her big break came at the age of 14, when she was cast in “Lizzie McGuire,” Hilary Duff started working in the entertainment industry at just 6 years old. According to NBC News, it was at that young age that she began touring with a ballet company, performing “The Nutcracker.” (In fact, the dancer-turned-actress posted a throwback photo of those days on Instagram, when she was dressed as a rat for the holiday-themed production.) When she was 8, the starlet moved to Los Angeles from her native Texas with her mom Susan Duff and sister Haylie Duff, leaving her dad behind to run his business. The move came about because of Haylie’s desire to be in show business. “Hilary kind of was dragged along,” Susan told NBC News. “You know, whatever the big sister was doing the little sister wanted to do.”
At 10 years old, she was cast as Casper the Friendly Ghost’s pal Wendy in the 1998 direct-to-video movie, “Casper Meets Wendy,” and because of that exposure, she earned the lead role in “Lizzie.” When People asked what advice she would give to herself back then, she said, “Calm down. It’s all gonna be good … You got here for a reason.”
She was homeschooled as a child, but as an adult, took classes at Harvard
When she was 8 years old, Hilary Duff left a traditional school setting, and from the third grade on, was homeschooled by her mother. Now, as a mom herself, she admits to being overwhelmed when it comes helping her son, Luca Cruz Comrie, with homework. When he was in second grade, she took to Instagram to express her feelings of inadequacy, saying, “I stopped going to ‘real’ school in 3rd grade so I’m actually doomed … I am left scratching my head alll the time looking at his homework and I’m terrified for next year!”
When asked to reflect on her career and if she would “do it all over,” Duff told Cosmopolitan that one of her regrets is not pursuing higher education. “I wish I had a little bit of a college experience,” she said. However, she did acknowledge that because of the fact that she was already famous, she would not have gotten a typical university experience. “The thing that I crave out of it wouldn’t look the way I pictured it because of who I am and how I came up,” she said.
Later in life, the actress decided to continue her studies by enrolling in classes at Harvard Extension School along with her sister, Haylie Duff. The girls took courses in the prestigious university’s Distance Learning Program (via The Harvard Crimson).
She’s a bestselling author
When she’s not memorizing lines or designing clothes, Hilary Duff has yet another job to keep her busy: The talented actress can also add the title of author to her very lengthy resume, because to date, she’s penned a total of five books! The actress-turned-author said that writing songs, poems, and scripts at a young age eventually led to her idea for the book (via Seventeen). In 2010, when she was just 23, she debuted “Elixir,” a young adult romance novel with a paranormal twist. “I have always been interested in the paranormal and afterlife, everything from ghosts to angels,” she said. The book, which went on to be a New York Times bestseller, was such a success that it inspired a trilogy — the second novel in the series, “Devoted,” was released in 2012 and the third, “True,” in 2014.
Her LA home includes an outdoor chicken coop
When Hilary Duff was pregnant with her first child, she was living in the Toluca Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles and felt the need for more privacy. “My mom had lived down the street from me then, and every time I would walk down to her house there was this paparazzi waiting outside. It was a nightmare,” she told Architectural Digest. She ended up selling that property — which included a gym, billiards room, art and dance studios, and a bar — for close to $5.5 million (via Los Angeles Times). This led her to purchase a 5,260-square-foot home in Beverly Hills for a staggering $3.85 million (via Variety).
She’s released five albums and met her second husband while recording one of them
There are a bunch of songs — 10 to be exact — “that prove Hilary Duff will forever be a pop force” (via Billboard). Those anthems include “So Yesterday,” her breakup-themed single that spent 20 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 list (via Teen Vogue), “Sweet Sixteen,” which was featured on MTV’s reality show “My Super Sweet 16,” and “Tattoo,” which she wrote and produced with Ed Sheeran.
When the actress was nine months pregnant, she got offered the lead in HIMYF
After “Lizzie McGuire” wrapped in 2004, Hilary Duff made the transition from TV to movies, dazzling on screen in films like the teen rom-com “A Cinderella Story” and the Steve Martin-led “Cheaper By Dozen” family flicks. She still mostly acted in TV shows, with a recurring role in “Gossip Girl” and a supporting role in “Younger,” for which she earned two People’s Choice Awards nods.
She chose her Younger costar to be her daughter’s godmother
One of Hilary Diff’s most notable and beloved TV gigs was playing ambitious twenty-something book editor Kelsey in “Younger.” In the series, which lasted seven seasons, Duff’s character was best friends with Molly Bernard’s character, Lauren, who Self called the “source of the show’s most outlandish humor.” Life definitely imitated art because the two became besties IRL. In an interview with E! News, Bernard explained that although the two are very different, they shared an instant chemistry. “She’s like a global actress, pop star, superstar and I’m like a neurotic complete nerd … I think opposites attract in that way,” she said.