There are not many names in the world of pop music as popular and polarizing as Miley Cyrus. However, no one can deny the impact she has made in the world of pop music. But her rise to fame could have easily been completely different if not for a mysterious focus group that had a career-defining impact on her life.

Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus | Credits: Wikimedia Commons/ Raph_PH

The first thing that comes to the minds of many when Cyrus’s name is mentioned is her Disney Channel show Hannah Montana. The show told the story of a girl who lead two lives, one as a normal student and another as a celebrity singer. The show made Cyrus an overnight international sensation and placed her on the map of pop culture.

Miley Cyrus Almost Lost the Role of Hannah Montana

Miley Cyrus with the crew members of Hannah Montana
Miley Cyrus with the crew members of Hannah Montana | Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Mike Schimd

The journey to achieve the role of Miley Stewart, the main character of the show, was not that simple. Cyrus added more information in one of her TikTok videos, saying that she first tried to land the role of Lilly, Miley Stewart’s best friend, but not for the lead role of Miley Stewart. It was not until the producers asked her to audition for the title character of Hannah Montana that she got her big break. The character was initially called Chloe.

During a recent preview of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman, Miley shared that her role as Hannah Montana had other competitors. 

They did shoot a pilot with another girl, and then they showed it to children…

Letterman intervened,

A focus group

Cyrus quickly replied,

They weren’t relating with her. I love them for that.

It was this group of unknown people who, after watching the first pilot episode, complained to producers about the choice of actress who played Hannah Montana claiming she was unfit to appeal to the target demographic.

Earlier, in her TikTok video, Cyrus shared that she was too young for the group that was already cast for Hannah Montana. However, she was called again after a year for the role. She said,

I was too small and too young to fit in with that group they had already casted, and so then they filmed the pilot without me. They called back and said that they wanted to give me another chance, now that I had grown up. And I came to LA to prove to them that I had grown up.

The executives of the studio decided to give Cyrus another shot, aware of her better performances since her audition. This was the chance that Cyrus grasped with both hands and played the role that was to transform her life.

Casting Director Revealed Who Were Other Options for Hannah Montana

Miley Cyrus in Hannah Montana
Miley Cyrus in Hannah Montana | via Disney Channel YouTube

Although the identities of the people in the focus group are not revealed, the casting director of Hannah Montana has unveiled the other contenders who were part of the Hannah Montana series.

As revealed in a TikTok video, the casting director of Hannah Montana, Lisa London stated that the last three actresses that auditioned for the role of Chloe Stewart, the later Hannah Montana, were Miley Cyrus, Taylor Momsen, and Daniella Monet. These three young stars had signed themselves from over 1,200 aspirants who tried to get a chance to play the character. She said,

I’m actually the original casting director on Hannah Montana, and I discovered Miley Cyrus. I wanted to let everyone know that Belinda, who is lovely by the way, was never in the top three for the role of Hannah. These were the final three actresses the network test out of over 1,200 girls.

Despite the fact that both Momsen and Monet failed to audition, they also became quite famous, with Momsen taking a lead role in the renowned series Gossip Girl and Monet featuring in several television shows and films.

While Miley Cyrus continues to make waves with her music and acting, she still acknowledges the importance of the audition that made her a star and the unknown focus group that provided Cyrus with much-needed direction.

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