Los Angeles pet lovers.
By Lori Golden
Hilary Duff’s swift ascent to Teen Titan reads like a Cinderella story. Born in Houston, she caught the acting bug from big sister Haylee, whom she idolizes, and landed a handful of roles before Mom packed up the girls and moved them out to Hollywood to really test their potential. With Dad still running his business inHouston, there were a lot of road trips back and forth, complete with goldfish, rabbits and their dogs. Hilary, who was ten at the time, remembers that “the road trips were really fun. My sister and I bonded big time.”
After landing a dramatic role in a TV movie and a guest appearance on Chicago Hope, in 2001 Hilary was cast in the title role of the Disney Channel series Lizzie McGuire. Geared to young people, the show deals with the trials and tribulations of middle-school student Lizzie as she and her animated alter ego grapple with teen growing pains. The show was an immediate hit, becoming the Disney Channel’s highest-rated show. It also propelled Hilary Duff to international stardom.
The Disney merchandising machine quickly moved into high gear, churning out video games, toys, several best-selling teen novels, a clothing line, and The Lizzie McGuire Movie. Two Lizzie McGuire soundtracks (from the TV series and the movie) launched Hilary’s second career as a singer. She made her singing debut on “I Can’t Wait” from The Lizzie McGuire TV soundtrack which went platinum; she sang duets with Christina Milian and Lil’ Romeo on a Christmas album Santa Claus Lane; and The Lizzie McGuire Movie soundtrack featuring Hilary singing “What Dreams Are Made Of” and “Why Not” was certified platinum in June.
Mind you, all this started just two years ago, when Hilary was only 13 years old. While already established as a megastar on TV as Lizzie, she made her big-screen breakthrough co-starring with Frankie Muniz in the MGM film Agent Cody Banks, which premiered in March. “That was the first time I saw myself on the Big Screen,” Hilary wrote in her online diary athttp://www.hilaryduff.com, “and I love the way the movie looks.” THEN she made The Lizzie McGuire Movie.
As Disney was building a merchandise empire based on the fanatical tween fans willing to spend millions on anything Lizzie, Hilary Duff was becoming a multimedia sensation at the same time. After all, she WAS Lizzie. It was HER face that represented everything Lizzie McGuire. And THAT has made Hilary Duff a HUGE star… and very much in demand.
And so it was that Hilary made headlines in May when she walked away from making a sequel to The Lizzie McGuire Movie after talks with Disney broke down. While it’s been said that Hilary was holding out for more money, she says she just couldn’t fit it into her schedule. “When the second one came up, I had other movies planned to do, and they wanted to do it right away,” she says.
If you think Hilary has accomplished a lot since she became Lizzie McGuire, you ain’t seen nothing yet!!! Her life this last year, indeed, just this summer, has been more than a little hectic. The Lizzie McGuire Movie premiered at the end of April, with Hilary promoting it all around the country. In May she completed filming on a remake of the 1950’s comedy Cheaper By The Dozen with Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt and Ashton Kutcher, due out this Christmas. She did a photo shoot for the Got Milk ad campaign.
And she shot another film, A Cinderella Story (with Chad Michael Murray) for Warner Brothers, which she says is a modern day twist on Cinderella. In June she also finished recording her debut solo album from Buena Vista Records and Hollywood Records titled Metamorphosis, that hits stores on August 26th. And the lead cut from that album, “So Yesterday,” just topped the singles chart, ending the 10-week reign of American Idol star Clay Aiken.
That’s quite a schedule for anyone to keep up with. But Hilary Duff is only 15 years old!
By her own account she says, “I am simple and down to earth.” Still, the enormity of her fame is sometimes hard even for Hilary to grasp. “It’s very weird because it’s like, I’m such a normal 15-year-old girl when I’m not working,” she admits. “At home I have to do chores like make up my bed and take the trash out. I like to hang out with my friends at the movies, go bowling and play miniature golf. Celebrity status has changed my life only to the point that people recognize me more frequently. I have to pinch myself sometimes, it just seems so unreal. But it’s cool.”
Celebrity status has also left Hilary with very little time to spend with another member of her family, her 13 year old Fox Terrier mix named “Little Dog.” “We found her on the road, lost,” says Hilary. “We put pictures up and no one claimed her, so we kept her. She is truly the alpha dog- little, but in charge. She’s very territorial.”
“When I’m home I spend most of my time with “Little.” We play together and she sleeps with me every night. It makes my life better to know that I have a dog who loves me and who I can love.”
Always an animal lover, Hilary has had many dogs since she was four. Her other dog is Remy, an 8 year old Border Collie who lives with her dad in Texas. “My dad found Remy at a ranch house. He and his family loved to sleep under the porch. He loves to run and swim and play catch. He’s the best and I really miss him.”
As an animal activist, Hilary has some important pet care tips for her fans, young and old. “Dog collars are important, so are ID tags. Make sure your dogs get their shots, and that they eat a good diet every day. And if you’re planning to go away, have someone responsible watch your animals.”
Although Hilary’s schedule is a full one, she plans to use her celebrity status to help animals. “Animals should not be killed or used in any way which causes harm,” she declares. “Animals breathe and eat just like humans. I want people to know that it’s not geeky or dumb to love animals, and that we should help them in any way we can.”
Through her acting coach Troy, Hilary learned about Living Free, a no-kill Dog and Cat Sanctuary located on 160 acres at the edge of the San Bernardino National Forest, about 15 minutes from Idlywild and less than an hour from Palm Springs. The mission of this non-profit rescue has been to save the lives of abused and distressed animals and place them in loving homes. If they are not adopted, they live out their lives with dignity at Living Free.
The overhead financing for Living Free has always come from investments of endowments established by its founder, and from special gifts designated for particular purposes. But due to the current economic conditions, the Foundation has been financially devastated. They desperately need to rebuild their monetary base so they can continue their mission of caring for their senior residents with ongoing medical needs.
Before these uncertain times, Living Free had offered an array of services that included: a spay & neuter clinic for the public… educational activities to teach youngsters to respect and value all creatures as well as properly care for their companion animals… visits to Senior Citizens and disabled people… and a program to ensure the ongoing care of companion animals when their owners are no longer here. They do have a Foster program where a nominal monthly financial commitment (minimum $25.00 per month) is used to care for one of their animals. If you ever visit Living Free, you can spend time with your foster animal, and you’ll also receive photographs and letters from your chosen “pet pal.” For people unable to have their own animals, this is a great way to make a difference in the life of an animal while helping the sanctuary.
Simply put, Living Free needs money to be able to continue its work so they can restore to their former numbers the dogs and cats they care for and continue to make a difference in the lives of those who have no voice.
Hilary Duff plans to use her voice and her influence to help support Living Free. For a recent fundraising event, she donated a number of signed posters and other items to be used in a silent auction and raffle. She’s read all about this special sanctuary but hasn’t been there yet. “I want to visit sooo bad when I have the time,” she says. “The love and genuine concern of the people involved is what drew me to Living Free. I hope by supporting them, kids will see that it can be a cool thing to do while really making a difference.”
Very soon Hilary is going to have the means to really make a difference in the things she believes in. Plans are underway to produce an extensive line of Stuff by Hilary Duff that will include clothing, cosmetics, fashion dolls, footwear, jewelry and underwear. And this fall, Visa will offer a Hilary Duff prepaid Visa card targeted to 6-13-year olds. The card, which works like a gift card, features a photo of Hilary on the front.
As part of her Stuff, Hilary’s best canine companion will have her very own special line of doggy products such as collars and leashes, to be called “Little Dog.” 50% of the proceeds with go to Kids With A Cause, a non-profit organization of celebrity children working to assist those less fortunate than themselves. The other 50% of the “Little Dog” proceeds will go to Spay & Neuter Programs.
“I want to do stuff to help animals. Spaying and neutering is very important to control the overpopulation of animals in the world, so we won’t have to hear about dogs or cats being put to sleep, just because they are there. Animals teach responsibility and respect as well as overall goodness. And they bring out the good in you. Thank God for animals. They rock!”
As Hilary Duff’s first solo album, Metamorphosis, hits the stores, we see how appropriate its title is for this young woman whose life has gone through such dramatic changes in so short a period of time. Hilary is just happy being who she is right now. “I enjoy everything… the acting, the music, the performing…. everything! Failure will never overtake you if your determination to succeed is strong enough. Stand for something… or you’ll fall for anything.”
On September 28th Hilary celebrates her 16th birthday with a WB Special - Hilary Duff's Island Birthday Bash! at 7.00pm. Happy birthday, Hil, from all of us at The Pet Press. And thank you!!
Tax deductible contributions (IRS#95-3628770) may be sent to Living Free Sanctuary, Post Office Box 5, 54250 Keen Camp Road, Mountain Center, CA 92561. (909) 659-4684. For more information including visiting hours and directions, visitwww.living-free.org Says Hilary, “Living free needs money. Money to help the animals.” Your donation can make a difference.
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