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Miley Cyrus and Disney: “You’ll Always Find Your Way Back Home”

Published on April 10, 2023, at 3:15 p.m.
by Lauren Bingham.

It seems as if Generation Z’s favorite Disney star has now traded in her rebellious phase for “the best of both worlds.” For the first time since her departure, Miley Cyrus has partnered with Disney once again.

This exciting news followed the release of her most recent album, “Endless Summer Vacation.” Her reunion with the company

Photo via @DisneyPlus on Instagram

came in the form of a short series that was released on March 10 on Disney+. In this series, she goes through the tracks on her new album and how they came to be. With exclusive interviews about her career, the singer also performs her early classic, “The Climb,” sending all of Gen Z back into 2009.

Cyrus’ fame has taken quite the journey. Due to her stardom blossoming at such a young age, every phase of her life has been put on display for all the world to see. Her career took off when she began as the star of Disney Channel’s “Hannah Montana.” In this sitcom, she played an average high schooler turned undercover pop star sensation.

It was clear back then that Disney made significant efforts to ensure its young stars upheld an innocent image outside of their characters in such shows. The way they dressed, acted and spoke in public went through the filter that was the Disney contract. This happened with other iconic Disney stars at the time such as Demi Lovato, Lindsay Lohan and Bella Thorne.

All four of these household names went through what the tabloids would consider a wild phase shortly after their contracts with

Photo via @EntertainmentWeekly on Instagram

Disney expired. For Cyrus, it started during the last couple seasons of “Hannah Montana,” and it only accelerated with her nearly nude VMA performance of “We Can’t Stop” with Robin Thicke in 2013. It was only when my parents would not let me watch the performance of the Disney star I once adored that I realized the times had sadly changed.

Disney held no affiliation with these once innocent child stars such as Cyrus as the company stepped into an entirely new phase of television shows for a new generation.

As Cyrus’ career evolved, Disney underwent some changes as well. Since the stars of the mid-2000s went their different ways, Disney has aired shows that would have been considered taboo or controversial during previous eras of children’s television. Over the past seven years, Disney’s image has changed, expanding its diversity representation through its characters and loosening what language it deems appropriate. Though both are considered quite normal today, it is a big step for Disney, because such things were unimaginable for the company just less than a decade ago.

When Cyrus turned a new leaf years later, she opened up about her struggles with both her addiction and her relationship with ex-husband Liam Hemsworth, claiming in an interview with Rolling Stone in December 2020 that “live fast, die young isn’t really

Photo via @PopSugar on Instagram

the goal.”

Her latest album, “Endless Summer Vacation,” has shown just that. Her divorce from Hemsworth brought her to claim a new sense of independence and self-love through her No. 1 hit, “Flowers.” The rest of the album takes her fans through a journey of heartbreak and healing. Clearly, Cyrus has come full circle from her beginnings at this point in her career. It seems as if Disney has caught on to such a development as well.

Cyrus may have found her way back “home,” but home has changed. Disney has displayed what every public relations professional should achieve in such a fast-paced industry: flexibility, adaptability, and active, social listening.

This billion-dollar company understood that it could not stay in the same place as it was in 2010 because society has established new cultural norms. Cyrus’ partnership with Disney+ communicates two clear messages: Disney no longer adheres to its old ways, and Cyrus has taken significant steps toward reaching the audience who adored her on the same platform years ago.

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