‘Lizzie McGuire’: Hilary Duff Dressed ‘Crazy’ to Stand Out From 200 Blonde Lookalikes While Auditioning

You’ve probably heard the jokes and seen the memes suggesting that everyone in Hollywood looks alike but when Hilary Duff was trying to break through as a child star, it was no laughing matter.

The pressures of being a famous actor are hard on everyone, but child stars deal with these challenging emotions and realities without the benefit of maturity and experience. Duff was just 14 when she booked the role that would change her life as she became the face of Disney’s Lizzie McGuire

Before she got there, though, Duff had to stand out from the crowd — and she had an unusual strategy for doing so. 

Hilary Duff rose to fame on ‘Lizzie McGuire’ 

Hilary Duff
Hilary Duff | Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for ASPCA

Disney has long been the proving ground for several child actors. The network’s child-centered approach to content means that young stars get a chance to show off their acting chops at the center of the plot rather than be relegated to the sidelines of adult storylines like they are for many series elsewhere.

Disney has been the launching pad for stars like Raven-Symone (who starred in the series That’s so Raven), Shia LaBeouf (who was a star on Even Stevens), and Miley Cyrus (the star of Hannah Montana). Duff was one of the child stars to rise to the top of Disney fame, and she did it with the title role on Lizzie McGuire, a series that ran from 2001 to 2004.

Duff portrayed Lizzie, a young girl trying to navigate the ups and downs of school, friends, and changing relationships. The show is almost completely unremarkable in that Lizzie is just a normal young teen going to a normal school with a typical nuclear family.

The thing that helped viewers connect to the portrayal was Lizzie’s alter-ego, a more outspoken and bold version of herself who helps express the emotions she has trouble getting out. 

The auditions for ‘Lizzie McGuire’ were tough

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According to BuzzFeed, Duff didn’t have any sincere intentions of landing the role on the new Disney show when Lizzie McGuire auditions came around. In fact, Duff had just been cut from another show called Daddio, and she was contemplating leaving acting behind entirely. She showed up at the set for the auditions because her friends would be there, and what teenage girl doesn’t want to hang out with her friends? 

Duff might not have had her sights set on the part, but plenty of other hopeful child stars did. Among them was Lindsay Lohan, a child star on a similar trajectory to Duff’s and who would later end up being something of a rival. The set was also filled with hundreds of other potential stars, all hoping that the Disney series could offer their big break. 

When it came time for Duff to audition, she didn’t do well. “I did a terrible job. I hadn’t read my lines,” Duff admitted. Luckily, show creator Terri Minsky had an eye for talent and encouraged Duff to get better prepared and try again. 

Hilary Duff intentionally stood out during ‘Lizzie McGuire’ auditions

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Surely, there was something about Duff’s acting talent that made Minsky encourage the star to return, but part of the appeal was in Duff’s intentional choice to dress for the part. “There were two hundred blonde girls exactly like me auditioning for Lizzie,” Duff explained. In order to help herself stand out from the crowd, she wore the craziest outfits she could.

It definitely made an impression as Disney’s president of entertainment Rich Ross once joked that Duff had to try out so many times because “she just wore such great outfits, and we wanted to see what she’d come in with next.” 

Once Duff landed the role, she required some coaching to reach her full potential, but it evidently worked. Minsky hounded Duff for years to tackle a reboot that would feature an adult Lizzie. The new series gained some traction and looked like it was going to be released on Disney+, but things stalled out, and it now seems unlikely to happen.