In Part 1 of our Insider interview with Hilary Duff, the ambitious actress/singer discussed life on the road, revealed her "guilty pleasures" and raved about her gig as cohost of tonight's Teen Choice Awards (airing on Fox at 8 pm/ET). Today, as the conversation turns more serious, Duff proves herself to be much more than just a teen queen: She's a young woman boasting values and priorities that, she believes, appear to elude a few of her headline-grabbing peers.
TVGuide.com: Does your new album, Most Wanted, reveal an older, wiser Hilary?
Hilary Duff: The three new songs that I did, I didn't tell my label I was doing them. I just went into the studio with [boyfriend/Good Charlotte singer] Joel [Madden], [his brother] Benji and this other guy that they work with, and for the very first time, I had control over what I sounded like and what I sang about. It was such a cool experience — we just took the time that we needed and did what we wanted, and when I brought it to my label they were like, "We love this! This is awesome!" [The rest of Most Wanted] is kind of a collection of stuff from my old albums that we remixed and made sound a bit different. [The Still Most Wanted tour] is to show the kids what the new sound is like and how things are going to be a bit different. If you listen to the music, you can feel the change in me.
TVGuide.com: At such a young age, you are very involved in philanthropic work. Some could argue that you have years to do that. Why do you choose to do it now?
Duff: It's something that I feel strongly about. My mom and I butt heads once in a while, just because we're mother and daughter, you know, but she is a person that I totally admire and look up to. And ever since I can remember, she would have dinner parties during Christmas time and instead of people bringing presents, she would be like, "Bring formula, bring diapers [to be donated to the needy]." She has always had a very hands-on attitude about giving back and helping. So when I got a voice and people knew who I was, I thought it was a really important way to get people to [do the same]. You don't have to be famous to help. Kids in hospitals don't only want to see famous people; they just want to have people play with them, reach out and touch them. We get so caught up in a very selfish world. I'm not trying to sound like a saint, but we take for granted that we are healthy and able to live a certain way. Giving back makes you feel like a good person inside.
TVGuide.com: As you prepare to turn 18 on Sept. 28, is there a temptation to "reinvent" yourself? We've seen Lindsay Lohan do it; we've seen Jessica Simpson do it. They enter young adulthood and redefine for the public who they are. Is there a controversial GQ cover on the horizon for you?
Duff: I have a kind of different view about that than people might think: Is that growing up? [Long pause] Is that showing a sign of maturity or...? What is that, you know? Everybody does it, but I always try not to follow the fad. It's so funny, because with Jessica Simpson... a lot of people talked bad about Britney Spears and gave her so much flak [when her videos became racy] and I don't see any difference [with what Simpson is doing now]. I think if you feel comfortable with what you're doing, more power to you, that's what you should be doing. It's your life and you should live it how you want. But I definitely do not think taking your clothes off or going out and getting wasted every night is a sign of maturity. And that doesn't mean that I'm not growing up, because I feel like I've done a lot of growing up. But I do not want to look back years from now and go, "Ugh, that's so embarrassing, I can't believe I was on the cover of US Weekly for 10 weeks in a row."
TVGuide.com: So none of your people push you to be more "controversial" to garner more buzz?
Duff: Everyone is fine with who I am, and if they weren't I wouldn't be working with them. Look at, like, Natalie Portman — she is so cool and so awesome, and has never done anything that she could be ashamed of. I think other magazines are really cool, but tabloid magazines? That's not where I want to be. You can get seen or you can not get seen. It's a choice.
Watch TV Guide at the Teen Choice Awards — only on the TV Guide Channel — tonight at 6 pm ET/5 pm CT, and see an encore of the awards on the TV Guide Channel Wednesday at 10 pm ET/9 pm CT. Get a sneak preview here.