Almost five years on, Miley Cyrus is reflecting on her infamous foam finger ride during her 2013 VMAs performance with Robin Thicke.
The raunchy rendition of her then-recent hit “We Can’t Stop,” melded with #Thicke’s ubiquitous summer smash “Blurred Lines,” shocked fans as she sought to distance herself from her family-friendly Hannah Montana persona. Viewed now, Cyrus, 25, says the controversial performance did more than help jettison her child star image (and introduce the concept of “twerking” to a wider demographic) — it helped her grow up.
“Not only was culture changed, but my life and career were changed forever,” she says in a revealing interview for Wonderland magazine’s spring 2018 issue (via Just Jared). “It inspired me to use my platform for something much bigger. If the world is going to focus on me and what I am doing, then what I am doing should be impactful and it should be great.”
In the intervening years, Cyrus has become a passionate advocate for the LGBTQ and homeless communities through her Happy Hippie Foundation, a nonprofit organization established to fight “injustice for vulnerable populations.” The year after her provocative duet with Thicke, she arrived at the 2014 VMAs with a young homeless man named Jesse Helt, transforming a red carpet walk into a spotlight on American youth shelters.
While she initially earned fame for her acting talent in the aforementioned Disney Channel hit, plus breakout roles in feature films like The Last Song — where she first met on-again-off-again fiancé Liam Hemsworth — Cyrus admits that the static and sometimes tedious process of filmmaking isn’t for her these days.
“My attention span doesn’t love the idea of focusing and being on one project for so many months, especially being a character and not getting to be myself for that amount of time,” she says. “I get really deep into the characters I play, just like I do with music. So then it becomes hard for me to relate — even to my family and friends — I’m so deep into that character. So for right now, I am so content with where I am, being someone else doesn’t sound that fun to me.”