“I THINK I’M MORE CONTENT NOW— ESPECIALLY SINCE I TOOK TIME OUT OF BEING ON TOUR AND IN MOVIES.”
parents separated—were the first times I had to deal with people knowing about something personal happening to my family. It just felt so invasive and insensitive. It got really gross, and I think part of you gets a bit desensitized. The best way to handle it is by just owning your shit. I’m human and this is what happened. None of us is perfect.”
Even when you were 16, you came across as very confident. Is that how you remember it?
“I think I’m more content now—especially since I took time out of being on tour and in movies. It was hard because [when I was 16] everything I did was watched. I had this idea of who I was, but the whole world thought I was so much bigger. Does that make sense? It was a very confusing time. It was a lot of pressure, and I became more content with myself when all the competition was gone and I could make choices for myself. I fucked up along the way too, but I got to do it quietly, which was awesome. Now, turning 27 feels weird. I still kind of feel like a kid. I’m a kid with a kid.” [Laughs]
You’re still young, yet you’ve been an influencing icon for some of the biggest stars right now, like Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande. Does that feel strange?
“All the time, because I’m a fan of theirs. I see tweets that Miley is excited that I was at her show, and when I gave Ariana an award the other day, she was like, ‘I can’t breathe right now.’ That admiration goes both ways. It’s sweet—[being in their position] just feels like such a lifetime ago for me.”
And now you’re getting back to TV, with
which is airing in January.
Younger, “I didn’t really mean to. My agent called me and was like, ‘I have a really good show; it’s a Darren Star show and he wants you for it.’ I said: ‘I can’t do that right now. I have Luca, and I definitely can’t move to New York.’ She told me to just read it. It was really, really good.... I either take a break or just slam myself full throttle, so here I am shooting the show and making a record at the same time again.” [Laughs] What’s your character like in the show? “She’s a book editor who has gotten to where she is pretty quickly, but she’s still fighting to get to the top. She’s strong-willed and ambitious, yet her personal life is kind of a hot mess because she’s submissive when it comes to men. It’s nice to be able to play a role that’s so different from me in my real life! I am not submissive at all. It’s a bit of a challenge, to be honest, but she’s fun and the show has the heart of New York City in it, and it’s aimed toward women, which I love.”
Speaking about heart, did you see all those Aaron Carter tweets? He never said your name, but he was basically lamenting letting you—the love of his life—go when you were both teens.
“Oh, God, I feel so uncomfortable right now. I don’t know what to say. The more I talk about it, the more I think he’s going to talk about it. We were like 13 and 14.... I don’t want him to be hurt—I don’t want to make anyone feel like that—but it’s time to move on. I have.” You’re not still 13 going on 30? [Laughs] “What’s funny, though, is that those feelings— I’m not talking about him but young love in general—feel so real. You always kind of think about it. When you’re dating, you can never quite get that excitement again, because you’re never that age again.”
Looking back, the first guy I was totally in love with when I was 16 was such a loser.
“But do you ever think about the feelings?” Oh, I was like 150 percent invested. “That’s what I mean! You can’t ever compare to it! Why does it get weaker, that passion?” I think it’s part of growing up. “It’s just bittersweet. That’s what it’s like with kids too. Luca does something that I’m obsessed with and it only lasts three weeks before it’s gone. It’s really painful to see it go by so fast. You want kids to be independent and strong, but it actually hurts when they start to pull away. It’s growing pains.” n