Hilary Erhard Duff (born September 28, 1987) is an American actress, author, entrepreneur and recording artist. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Duff appeared in local theatre plays and television commercials before coming to prominence in the title role of the Disney Channel television series Lizzie McGuire. Established as a teen idol, Duff reprised that role in the The Lizzie McGuire Movie and subsequently ventured into motion pictures, appearing in a string of successful films that include Agent Cody Banks, Cheaper by the Dozen, A Cinderella Story and Cheaper by the Dozen 2. Most recently, she has performed in a legion of television dramas and independent films.
Duff expanded her repertoire to include pop music and has released three RIAA-certified platinum albums including Metamorphosis (2002), her debut studio album which was certified triple platinum, Hilary Duff (2004) and Most Wanted (2005), which were both certified platinum. Her most recent studio album Dignity (2007) was certified gold and spawned her highest charting US single to date "With Love". Followed by Best of Hilary Duff (2008), a compilation of her greatest hits, Duff has since sold thirteen million records worldwide.
Branching into the fashion industry, Duff has launched her own clothing lines Stuff by Hilary Duff and Femme for DKNY Jeans in addition to being signed with IMG Models and releasing two exclusive perfume collections with Elizabeth Arden. Her other business ventures include writing a series of young adult novel, including Elixir (2010) and Devoted (2011), while working as an executive producer for According to Greta and as a producer for Material Girls and Beauty & the Briefcase.
Hilary Erhard Duff was born on September 28, 1987 in Houston, Texas, to Susan Colleen (née Cobb), a homemaker, and Robert Erhard Duff, a partner in a chain of convenience stores. Duff has an elder sister, Haylie, who is also an actress and singer. Her mother encouraged her to enroll in acting classes alongside Haylie. Both girls won roles in local theatre productions. At the ages of six and eight, the two sisters participated in a BalletMet Columbus production of The Nutcracker Suite in San Antonio. The sisters became increasingly interested in pursuing acting and their mother moved with them to California, while their father stayed in Houston to take care of his business. The sisters auditioned for several years and were cast in several television commercials. Due to her acting career, Duff was home-schooled.
Duff primarily played minor roles during her initial acting years. In 1997, she had an uncredited role in the Hallmark Entertainment western miniseries True Women. The following year, she played an uncredited extra in an ensemble dramedy, Playing by Heart. Her first major role was as a young witch, Wendy, in Casper Meets Wendy. The film, however, was released to mostly unenthusiastic reviews. In 1999, Duff appeared in a supporting role in the television film The Soul Collector, which was based on a Kathleen Kane novel. For her performance, Duff won a Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a TV Movie or Pilot (Supporting Young Actress).
Duff first rose to fame in 2000 when she was cast as one of the children in the pilot episode of the NBC sitcom Daddio. Her co-star, Michael Chiklis, stated, "After working with her the first day, I remember saying to my wife, 'this young girl is going to be a movie star'. She was completely at ease with herself and comfortable in her own skin." However,prior to the airing of the show, Duff was dropped from the cast which made her reluctant to pursue her acting career further. However, her manager and mother urged her on and a week later she auditioned successfully for the title role of a newly developed children's television series, Lizzie McGuire. The show focused on the growth of the central character, "Lizzie McGuire" into teenhood. Lizzie McGuire first aired on the Disney Channel on January 12, 2001, and was a ratings hit. It attracted about 2.3 million viewers per episode. Her participation in the show made her popular among children between the ages of 7 and 14. That same year, she began dating teen singer Aaron Carter. Richard Huff, a New York Daily News critic, called her "a 2002 version of Annette Funicello". After Duff fulfilled her 65 episode contract with Lizzie McGuire, Disney considered expanding the franchise to films and a prime-time television series. The plans however failed, because Duff's representatives said she was not being paid enough for the proposed series.
In 2003, Duff received her first major role in a feature film when she was cast alongside Frankie Muniz in Agent Cody Banks. The film received positive reviews and was successful enough to spawn a sequel in which Duff was however not cast. That year, Duff reprised her role as Lizzie McGuire for The Lizzie McGuire Movie. It received mixed reviews, with certain critics calling it "an unabashed promotion of Duff’s image, just as Crossroads was for Britney Spears". Later that year, Duff played one of the 12 children of Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt in the family film Cheaper by the Dozen, which remains her highest grossing film to date. That same year, she ended her two year relationship with Aaron Carter after he reportedly cheated on her. She reprised her role in the sequel Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (2005), which was less successful as the original film and was panned by critics.
Duff also made several guest appearances in television shows, her first being as a sick child in the medical drama Chicago Hope in March 2000. In a 2003 episode of George Lopez, she had a role as a makeup salesperson; she later reappeared in the show in 2005 as Kenzie, a feminist poet friend of the character Carmen (Masiela Lusha). In the same year, she acted opposite her sister Haylie in American Dreams, while in 2005, she played a classmate and idolizer of the title character of Joan of Arcadia.
In 2004, Duff starred in the romantic comedy A Cinderella Story. Though the reviews were mostly negative, the film went on to become a moderate box office hit, and some critics were impressed by Duff's performance. Later that year, she starred in the film Raise Your Voice, her first role in a drama film. While some critics praised her for appearing in a more mature and serious role than her previous films, the film itself was heavily panned and was not successful at the box office. Several reviews were indifferent towards her acting performance and were critical of Duff's vocals, with critics pointing out what appeared to be her digitally enhanced voice. The same year, Duff received her first Razzie nomination for worst actress for her roles in Raise Your Voice and A Cinderella Story. In 2005, Duff starred in The Perfect Man, in which she played the eldest daughter of a divorced woman (Heather Locklear). In the same year, Duff was again nominated for a Razzie Award, for The Perfect Man and Cheaper by the Dozen 2. Later that year, the Duff sisters lent their voices to the computer animated comedy Foodfight!, which was to be distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment but was never released. The director of the film, Larry Kasanoff, said that he was "absolutely thrilled to have the Duff sisters as part of the cast". She also starred in the 2006 satirical comedy Material Girls, in which she co-starred with her sister Haylie Duff. Duff along with her sister Haylie, received two more nominations for Razzie Awards for their roles in the film.
A two-part introspective documentary television special, Hilary Duff: This Is Now was produced to chronicle Duff's return to the recording industry. The show took two weeks to film and was shot in Los Angeles, Europe, and Spain. It was broadcast on MTV on April 3 and April 9, 2007. Duff was the guest star on The Andy Milonakis Show for its third season premiere in September 2007.