What Hilary Duff Wishes She Could Tell Her 14-Year-Old Self

The actress talks to HelloGiggles about teenage insecurity, 'Lizzie McGuire,' and her new plant-based campaigns.

Not many child actors hit it big the way Hilary Duff did when she booked Lizzie McGuire at age 14, a fact that the now 32-year-old remains keenly aware of to this day. And while many factors likely led to her getting the role, there’s no doubt that the actress’s teenage realness definitely contributed.

“In that time of my life, I was [Lizzie] and she was me,” Duff recalls, speaking to HelloGiggles over the phone in mid-July while promoting her partnership with beverage brand Creative Roots. “So all the insecurities that came along with that are what made it so relatable and so special.”

Now a mom of two with years of acting success under her belt, Duff adds that while it’d be tempting to give her teenage self a message like, “Hey, all that [insecurity] you’re feeling right now, just know that you’re like, super cool and no one else is feeling that way about you,” she knows it was her off-screen realness that helped make Lizzie McGuire as authentic as it was. Instead, Duff says that if she could, she’d simply sit her 14-year-old self down and say, “Buckle up, girl!”

After all, she could never have imagined that the Disney Channel show, which premiered in 2001 and aired for just two seasons, would have such a lasting legacy. “I don’t know how I would have ever prepared myself,” Duff reflects. “I think I just had to let it all happen and deal with the positives and negatives as they came, you know?”

Despite those ups and downs, the star has always chosen to embrace the character that gave her fame, rather than shying away from it. A few weeks before our chat, Duff and her Lizzie McGuire castmates even reunited for a heartwarming live table reading of one of the show’s most hilarious and memorable episodes, in which Lizzie decides to buy a bra. The reunion acted as an almost-20-year anniversary ode to the show, not to mention a bit of relief from quarantine boredom for both fans and the actors themselves. Speaking about the table reading and Lizzie now, Duff makes it clear just how grateful she still is for her experience on the series two decades later.

“I think we’re all so appreciative of that time of our lives,” the actress says, “being a part of something that was so impactful to people.” She adds that seeing the cast together on the same screen and reading some of those early 2000s lines made her emotional. “I kept having tears in my eyes!” Duff recalls.

Since Lizzie wrapped in 2003, Duff has worked steadily in film and TV, scoring leading roles in movies like Raise Your Voice and A Cinderella Story, doing a 6-episode arc on Gossip Girl, and starring on TVLand’s Younger as a bold publishing boss. Her success has spanned outside of Hollywood as well; she’s the co-owner and Chief Brand Officer of both Happy Little Camper, a line of earth-friendly diapers and wipes, and Veeda, a collection of affordable natural-made cotton tampons and pads. Recently, Duff signed on to be an ambassador for the plant-based kids’ drink company Creative Roots to address the “constant mom struggle” of making sure children are getting enough nutrition. Speaking about the campaign, Duff—who’s mom to 6-year old Luca, whom she shares with ex-husband Mike Comrie, and 21-month-old Banks with husband Matthew Koma—says she was glad to find a healthy drink that tasted good enough for her kids to actually want it; she’s since shared the brand with her “mom tribe.”

“Being a mom is a constant learning and growing experience, and we want to make sure that we make better choices all the way around,” Duff says. “With this, it’s something I feel good about giving to them.”

Currently, the star is quarantining at home with her family, staying busy and enjoying the uninterrupted quality time with her loved ones by exploring the outdoors, cooking, and even spontaneously dying her hair. And, like always, she’s keeping it real on social media, sharing masked selfies, sweet messages to Koma, and hilariously relatable glimpses into quarantined life with two kids with her 15.3 million followers. Duff’s openness with her fans on everything from parenthood to marriage to career changes is a major reason why nearly two decades after Lizzie‘s premiere, she’s still a presence in all of our lives—whether it’s through her acting on-screen or her work with the lifestyle brands.

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