The One Piece of Advice Hilary Duff Would Give Her Younger Self
Younger is only getting better with age. Tonight, the TV Land series wraps its fifth season, which packed no shortage of unexpected hookups, career power plays, and accidental social movements (haven't heard of age queerness? Watch episode five). With the season finale just hours away, the show’s star Hilary Duff told us to get ready for more shockers — including one that will forever alter the future of Empirical Press.
“Big upheaval is about to happen at the company,” Duff told InStyle earlier today. “Something major, major, major takes place, and it makes everyone’s positions different.” The changes are going to be especially impactful for Duff’s character, Kelsey Peters, the social media-savvy book editor who heads up the publisher's twenty-something-focused imprint Millennial. “In tonight’s finale, Kelsey gets some major news. And she and [her boss] Charles have a very life-changing ... uprooting, we’ll call it.”
Duff — mom to Luca, 6, and currently expecting a daughter with boyfriend Matthew Koma — admires the way her character has fought to establish herself as a power player at work. “She’s had to be so scrappy all season long,” says Duff, 30. “She’s been fighting so hard to be heard, even though she’s the one who’s been raking in all the cash for the company.”
Duff is equally a fan of Kelsey's wild side — which the actress says they have in common. “I’m not so different from that!” she says of the party-hopping Kelsey. “I love to go out and have a good time; I just have a child and another child on the way. I have more responsibilities than she does, but I get her need to let loose. And I actually love that I can relate to her in that way.”
That only goes so far, though. “I’ve been working since I was 11 years old,” says Duff, who grew up in the spotlight after landing the lead role on Lizzie McGuire in 2001. “I know my work ethic, and I know what I have to do and show up — for other people’s jobs and mine. So when it comes to work and wanting to succeed, I think I’m definitely like Kelsey. But then again, she’s also younger than me. So she’s willing to have more of a hangover and try to piece things together all day, where I don’t really have that kind of life anymore.”
At this stage, says Duff, perhaps she finds even more common ground with Liza, Kelsey's colleague-turned-work wife who's actually 41 but masquerading as a 27-year-old in order to keep her job in an ageist society. Like Liza, Duff is a divorced working mom and an ambitious self-starter who doesn't always feel her age. “I think I feel 27,” she says. “Some pretty big stuff happened to me really early on in my life — obviously career, but then getting married, having a baby, and getting divorced. A lot happened for me before 27. So when I turned 27 or 28, I was like, ‘Cool, here I am again!’ I feel like I had my shit together."
And now? "Now that I’m turning 31 in a month, I’m like, ‘Eww, how?! What?!’ Like, I just turned 30! I was super excited to turn 30, but I can’t believe 31 is already here. In my mind, I think I’m late twenties.”
Those years may be behind her, but if she could give her younger self one piece of advice, “I think I would just tell her to chill out,” says Duff. “I’d be like, ‘Everything’s gonna fall into place, you don’t have to say yes to everything. You don’t have to put so much pressure on yourself. And you’re meant to be here. I think that there’s so much insecurity when you’re young — about everything. And I would just be like, ‘Hey, you’re good enough, and you’re meant to be here.’”
One thing Duff feels more comfortable with at this age than any other is her relationship to fame. “I feel so much more comfortable in my skin now,” she says. “[Being famous] is the only life I’ve known, so I guess it’s just really familiar. It takes a lot of navigating, for sure, and I have to think about a lot of things that people who don’t have that element in their life don’t have to think about.”
Duff is super glad that her early exposure to celebrity didn't coincide with the birth of social media, though. "I actually feel really bad for people that are coming up in this world of everyone being so interested in people’s personal lives,” she says. “The attention isn’t really on the actor or singer[’s work] anymore; it’s on their personal life, decisions, secrets, and who they are at their core. Everyone wants reality and truth, and while I don't think that’s necessarily a bad thing, it takes away from the artistry of what the industry used to be about.”