Skip to main content

Becoming a big star as a kid sounds like a dream, but for Hilary Duff, all that acclaim just made the Lizzie McGuire actor more and more uncomfortable as she grew in popularity. As much as being a global child star enabled a lot of early success in her career, the Disney star also felt boxed in by the image of her created by her most famous roles. Before she could show people that her personality could not be confined to her preteen fame, Duff had to take some time off from her career to find herself

Hilary Duff became famous when she starred in ‘Lizzie McGuire’

For millennials who came of age in the early 2000s, Duff is synonymous with childhood pop culture. 

She played the title character in Lizzie McGuirearguably the best Disney Channel program of its era. The show was an instant hit and made Duff a notable celebrity at the age of 14. Disney seized on the success by making mountains of merchandise (at the height of Lizzie McGuire’s popularity, Fortune estimated that the merch brought in over $100 million), further pushing Duff to the top of pop culture. 

In addition to Lizzie McGuire, she also took her acting talents to the big screen. She played significant parts in Agent Cody Banks, Cheaper by the Dozen, and A Cinderella Storythree movies that all made huge profits at the box office. Duff also starred in Cadet Kelly, a Disney Channel movie that was the network’s most-watched ever when it first aired. 

She also had an impressive music career. Her second album Metamorphosis was certified triple platinum and her follow-up records, Hilary Duff and Dignity, went platinum and gold respectively. 

Hilary Duff needed to put her career on pause to reset her public persona

hilary duff lizzie mcguire
Hilary Duff attends D23 Disney+ Showcase at Anaheim Convention Center on August 23, 2019 in Anaheim, California. | Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

When speaking to Pride Source in 2015, Duff spoke about her complicated relationship with Lizzie McGuire. 

She is ultimately grateful for the show and the way it helped create a fan base for her, but she also described the legacy of the show as “torturous”. Duff enjoyed the experience of making Lizzie McGuire, but she became increasingly bothered by people who still saw her as that character for years as she transitioned into adulthood. In the eyes of some fans, she could never get past her adolescence

Becoming a commodity at a young age can be destructive for younger performers, especially girls. Duff pushed herself to the point of exhaustion making her albums and appearing in movies. Some of her contemporaries like Lindsay Lohan succumbed to their vices as a way to deal with the stress, while Duff made a choice that was riskier for her career, but better for her well-being in the future: she took a break. 

“Everyone thought I was just absolutely nuts because I was really successful and making a lot of money,” Duff recalled. “And it was scary, because there was no guarantee that my career was still gonna be there. I think, personally, it was very healthy, and I’m proud of where I am now.”

Hilary Duff returned to the industry refreshed and continues to perform


Hilary Duff Never Really Left Disney Despite the ‘Lizzie McGuire’ Revival Cancelation

Duff has crafted a solid career since coming back to the entertainment industry. She played Kelsey Peters on the TV Land original series Younger, earning two nominations from the People’s Choice Awards. She currently stars in How I Met Your Father as the lead character Sophie. Another project Duff hoped to star in was a Lizzie McGuire reboot, but the show was scrapped by Disney in 2020 after being announced at the D23 Expo a year earlier.  

When she wasn’t acting, Duff also released her fifth album, Breathe In. Breathe Out., in 2015 and wrote a trilogy of books, Elixir (2010), Devoted (2011), and True (2013).

In her personal life, Duff married former NHL player Mike Comrie in 2010. They have a son together before divorcing in 2016. She married her second husband Matthew Koma in 2019. They currently have two daughters as a couple.