2001–05: Early workIn 2001, when Cyrus was eight, she and her family moved to Toronto, Canada while her father filmed the television series Doc. Cyrus said watching her father film the show inspired her to pursue acting. After Billy Ray took her to see a 2001 Mirvish production of Mamma Mia! at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Cyrus grabbed his arm and told him, "This is what I want to do, daddy. I want to be an actress." She began taking singing and acting classes at the Armstrong Acting Studio in Toronto. In her first role, Cyrus played a girl named Kylie on Doc. In 2003, Cyrus was credited under her birth name for her role as "Young Ruthie" in Tim Burton's Big Fish.
At age 11, Cyrus learned about the casting for what became Hannah Montana, a Disney Channel children's television series about a school girl with a secret double life as a teen pop star. Cyrus sent in a tape auditioning for the show's best friend role, but received a call asking her to audition for the lead, "Chloe Stewart". After sending in a new tape and flying to Hollywood for further auditions, Cyrus was told that she was too young and too small for the part. However, her persistence and ability to sing in addition to act led the show's producers to invite her back for further auditions. Cyrus eventually received the lead, renamed "Miley Stewart" after herself, at the age of twelve.
As Cyrus's career took off, Tish Cyrus made several critical decisions regarding her daughter's representation. She signed Cyrus with Mitchell Gossett, director of the youth division at Cunningham Escott Slevin Doherty. Gossett, who specializes in creating child stars, had arranged for Cyrus's auditions for Hannah Montana and is credited with "discovering" her. For Cyrus's music career, Tish followed the advice of Dolly Parton, Cyrus's godmother and a singer herself, and signed Cyrus with Jason Morey of Morey Management Group. "Dolly said the Moreys are people you can trust around your daughter," Tish Cyrus recalls, "and she said they have good morals, which is not always the case in this business." According to trade magazine The Hollywood Reporter, Parton's advice was "the best advice [Tish] could [have gotten] on who should rep her daughter." Tish also recruited Billy Ray's business manager to manage her daughter's finances. Tish herself continues to co-manage or produce many of Cyrus's career decisions. For her education, Cyrus enrolled at Options for Youth Charter Schools and studied with a private tutor on the set of her television show.
2006–07: Hannah Montana and Meet Miley Cyrusteen idol status, according to The Daily Telegraph. The series premiered on March 26, 2006 to the largest audience ever for a Disney Channel show and soon became one of the highest-rated series on basic cable, elevating Cyrus's wealth and fame along with it. Time magazine reports that Cyrus's "phenom[enal]" success is due partially to her talent and partially to "Disney learning to use its vast, multimedia holdings" and market Cyrus and Hannah Montana appropriately. Cyrus eventually became the first artist to have deals in television, film, consumer products, and music within The Walt Disney Company.
Cyrus's first single was "The Best of Both Worlds", the theme song to Hannah Montana, which was released on March 28, 2006. "The Best of Both Worlds" is credited to "Hannah Montana", the pop star Cyrus portrays on the series by the same name. As with other songs credited to Montana, Cyrus typically dressed as the character when performing the song live. Cyrus's first release under her own name was a cover of James Baskett's "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah", released on April 4, 2006 on the fourth edition of DisneyMania. Dressed as Hannah Montana, Cyrus opened for The Cheetah Girls on twenty dates of their The Party's Just Begun Tour, beginning on September 15, 2006. On October 24 of same year, Walt Disney Records released the first Hannah Montana soundtrack. Of the nine tracks on the soundtrack performed by Cyrus, eight were credited to "Hannah Montana" and one, a duet with her father titled "I Learned from You", was credited to Cyrus as herself. The album peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.
The second season of Hannah Montana premiered on April 23, 2007, and ran until October 12, 2008. Cyrus signed a four-album deal with Disney-owned Hollywood Records and, on June 26, 2007, released a double-disc album. The first disc was the soundtrack to the second season of Hannah Montana, while the second, titled Meet Miley Cyrus, was Cyrus's debut album credited to her own name. The double-disc album peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 and was later certified three times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Meet Miley Cyrus generated "See You Again", Cyrus's first single to be released under her own name and her first top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100. In Fall 2007, Cyrus launched her first tour, the Best of Both Worlds Tour, to promote Meet Miley Cyrus and the Hannah Montana soundtracks. With the Jonas Brothers, Aly & AJ, and Everlife as her opening acts, Cyrus toured from October 17, 2007 to January 31, 2008 with stops in the U.S. and Canada. Tickets sold out in minutes and were scalped for up to $2,500 and an average of $214, well above their $26–$65 face value. A Ticketmaster official commented, "Hell hath no fury like the parent of a child throwing a tantrum. People who have been in this business for a long time are watching what's happening, and they say there hasn't been a demand of this level or intensity since The Beatles or Elvis."
2008–09: Breakout, transitions and film career launchAfter the end of the Best of Both Worlds Tour in January 2008, Walt Disney Pictures released Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert, a 3D concert film of the tour, on February 1, 2008 for what was expected to be a one-week run. The film earned $29 million at the box-office and an average of $42,000 per theater, twice the expected total, convincing Disney executives to extend the release for an indefinite run. "We don't want to turn away kids from the theaters who couldn't get into the concerts," said Chuck Viane, Disney's chief of distribution. The film's soundtrack was released by Walt Disney Records/Hollywood Records on March 11, 2008 and peaked at number three on the Billboard 200.
On July 22, 2008, Cyrus released her second studio album under her own name, entitled Breakout. Cyrus said Breakout was inspired by "what's been going on in my life in the past year." Cyrus co-wrote eight out of twelve songs on the album. "Songwriting is what I really want to do with my life forever, [...] I just hope this record showcases that, more than anything, I'm a writer." The album debuted at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and its lead single, "7 Things", peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. She hosted the 2008 CMT Music Awards with her father in April and the 2008 Teen Choice Awards by herself in August. Cyrus provided the voice of Penny in the 2008 computer-animated film Bolt, which was released on November 21, 2008 to critical acclaim. Cyrus also co-wrote and recorded the song "I Thought I Lost You" as a duet with John Travolta for the film, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. In September 2009, she participated in the charity single "Just Stand Up!" in support of the anti-cancer campaign Stand Up to Cancer and in the City of Hope Benefit Concert in support of cancer research and training programs. She also became involved in Disney's Friends for Change, an environmentalist group, for which she recorded the charity single "Send It On" along with several other Disney Channel stars.
Nicholas Sparks to write the screenplay and novel basis for a film that would serve as a star vehicle for Cyrus by introducing her to audiences older than the young fans she had gained through Hannah Montana. Sparks and co-writer Jeff Van Wie developed The Last Song. It was important to Cyrus that she not be type cast as a singer: "I didn't want to be a singer in another film. I don't want to do that anymore. You have no idea how many musicals show up on my door. I want to do something a little more serious." In March 2009, Cyrus published Miles To Go, a memoir co-written by Hilary Liftin chronicling her life through age sixteen. Cyrus starred as Miley Stewart/Hannah Montana in Hannah Montana: The Movie, released April 10, 2009. Both the film and its soundtrack, which contained twelve songs performed by Cyrus, achieved commercial success. The soundtrack's lead single, "The Climb", became a Top 40 hit in twelve countries and introduced Cyrus to listeners outside her typical teen pop audience. Cyrus had considered ending Hannah Montana after its third season, which finished production on June 5, 2009, but Disney retained and exercised its option for a fourth season.
Production on The Last Song lasted from June 15, 2009 to August 18, 2009. In between, Cyrus launched the third Hannah Montana soundtrack, recorded the extended play The Time of Our Lives, and released the EP's lead single, "Party in the U.S.A." Cyrus said The Time of Our Lives "is a transitioning album. [...] really to introduce people to what I want my next record to sound like and with time I will be able to do that a little more." "Party in the U.S.A." debuted at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 for her best-ever ranking on the chart. The Time of Our Lives was released in conjunction with a clothing line co-designed by Cyrus and Max Azria for Walmart.
From September 14, 2009 to December 29, 2010, Cyrus toured on her Wonder World Tour to promote Breakout and The Time of Our Lives. On December 7, 2009, Cyrus performed for Queen Elizabeth II and numerous other members of the British Royal Family at the Royal Variety Performance in Blackpool, North West England.
2010–present: Can't Be Tamed and focus on film careerProduction on the fourth and final season of Hannah Montana began on January 18, 2010. In the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Cyrus appeared on the charity singles "We Are the World: 25 for Haiti" and "Everybody Hurts". Her third studio album, Can't Be Tamed, was released on June 21, 2010. The album's first single is the title track, "Can't Be Tamed". The single was released for sale on May 18, 2010 and entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number eight. Cyrus's costumes and dances while promoting Can't Be Tamed were also considerably more provocative than previous performances, arousing media criticism. After releasing the album, Cyrus intends to take a break from the music industry in order to focus on her film career. She commented, "I've not taken, like, acting lessons or anything, but it doesn't mean I don't need to because I'm sure I do [...] I'm probably going to go book an acting coach." Cyrus has also decided to opt out of college for the same reason, saying "I'm a firm believer that you can go back at any age you want, because my Grandma went back to college at 62 [...] For right now, I really want to focus on my career. I've worked hard to get to where I am now, and I want to enjoy it while it lasts."
Cyrus starred in The Last Song, which was released on March 31, 2010, and received generally poor reviews, as did Cyrus's performance. Nonetheless, the film was commercially successful, grossing more than $88 million at the worldwide box office. According to box-office analyst Exhibitor Relations, the film marked "a successful transition to adult roles for Miley Cyrus."
The fourth and final season of Hannah Montana began airing on Disney Channel on July 11, 2010 and is scheduled to end in 2011.
As of December 2010, Cyrus is set to star in two more films, LOL: Laughing Out Loud and So Undercover. In LOL, a remake of a 2008 French teen comedy, Cyrus plays "a daughter who is involved with all the wrong kids, doing drugs, failing school, but [...whose] mother has her on this perfect pedestal" and says "[She] just fell in love with the story." Miley's character loses her virginity, smokes cannabis, gets wasted and kisses two girlfriends on the lips. She will also star in So Undercover, an action comedy film. Cyrus will play the part of "a tough, street-smart private eye hired by the FBI to go undercover in a college sorority." She will learn street fighting for the role.
Cyrus will host Saturday Night Live on March 5, 2011.