LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- There's something intimidating about Miley Cyrus.
Miley Cyrus says, "I want people to know who I am."
Yes, she's only 16. But she has a surprisingly deep voice, and she's way too confident for a girl who just learned to drive.
Her Nashville buddy, Taylor Swift, is three years older, but despite all Swift's accolades, there's still a hint of vulnerability and gee-whiz charm to her. Perhaps Cyrus' charm is her spunkiness and take-no-prisoners attitude.
It's rock 'n' roll, baby -- Disney style.
As most 16-year-olds head back to school, Cyrus heads out on the road. The "Hannah Montana" star turned real-life, chart-topping singer kicked off her 45-date "Wonder World Tour" Monday in Portland, Oregon.
When we met up during the last days of rehearsals at The Forum in Inglewood, California, Cyrus was definitely a girl in control -- smart, no-nonsense and articulate. Watch Miley tell it like it is »
Although she was surrounded by the usual contingent of publicist/manager/make-up artist, she wasn't treated with the kid gloves one might expect from a star of her stature, especially since some members of the press have been harsh critics of provocative photos and, more recently, a performance at the "Teen Choice Awards" that involved what they called a "stripper pole." (Said pole was really an umbrella pole on top of an ice cream cart that she braced herself against for the duration of two hip shakes.)
The following is an edited version of our interview.
CNN: You know what I found surprising? That you didn't have a lot of handlers saying, "You need to stay away from this topic or that question." None of that.
Miley Cyrus: I think the reason that a lot of people have to have a lot of people around is just about being smart and knowing what you want to talk about. I want people to know who I am. Respect is a huge thing -- especially in my family. ... If you don't respect people, people aren't going to respect you back. It's just about yourself, you respecting others, and hopefully everyone else will follow that and respect you, as well.
It's about keeping your life private as much as you can.
CNN: Do you think the press has always been respectful of you?
Cyrus: No, I think the media always tried to overdo it. It's really no one else's business how my parents raised me. Everyone has that right -- and they've got their kids and the way they want to raise them. And so for anyone to say I don't have that, as well, makes me feel like I'm not a person -- which I am. And so sometimes people do get reminded of that. That I am just a person.
CNN: And that you have parents.
Cyrus: Right. Yeah, you don't need anyone else that's trying to parent you. The world will try to do that -- but that's for my parents and my family. I have some of the best parents in the world. I have a much more open relationship than a lot of even my friends have ever had with their parents, and so I'm very lucky to have that.
CNN: It seems as though you can talk with your parents about things.
Cyrus: Yeah, for sure -- especially me and my dad. Me and my dad are really close.
CNN: So what was your reaction after the "Teen Choice Awards"? Were you ready for the backlash after your performance?
Cyrus: Well, I can say this. For "Teen Choice Awards," I don't think it was a backlash at all.
There's a difference between a stage and an actress. That's like someone looking at someone's movie, and seeing what they do in a movie and putting that to their real life. It's not real life at all. It's performance. And that's who I am -- I'm a performer. That's what my job is.
CNN: What else do you want to do? You act, you sing. Your have four albums that went to No. 1 on the Billboard chart.
Cyrus: Hopefully, I can just continue to do movies, and just continue to do concerts. That's what I really love. And I do love performing and being an entertainer, and so I wouldn't give up that for anything.
CNN: For this tour, do you have lots of costume changes, and sets and things like that?
Cyrus: Tons of costume changes. I think I'm up to 10 dancers or something -- whole band, lots of dancers, me definitely, and we've got so many crew members. I'm still trying to learn everyone's name.
CNN: I saw a motorcycle (on cables). Do you "ride" that?
Cyrus: That flies! That goes around the audience. There's a ship, there's cars, there's a little bit of everything. It is a wonder world.
CNN: No "stripper" poles?
Cyrus: (chuckles) Thanks. Whatever's entertaining, or whatever's right for the show, I'll do. I think that's what the point of entertaining is. If it's going to be average, then it wouldn't be a show. People wouldn't come see it.
CNN: Do you subscribe to that Madonna theory that you've got to push it a little bit?
Cyrus: I think if you don't -- if there's nothing that's interesting -- no one's going to want to come back. I don't ever want anyone to walk away saying, "OK, I saw that show."
CNN: What do you think your target audience is?
Cyrus: It's more of a mature show, but we've got things like the Hoedown Throwdown that kids are going to love, and that's really fun. But it's mostly for kids my age, and it's edgy, and it's rock and roll, but it's still young and it's still fun.
CNN: You're not cookie-cutter, always saying the right thing, doing the right thing.
Cyrus: I've never been that person to fake it, and say what everyone else wants you to say. Then you never have anything personal. If I wanted to be an actress all the time, I could do that. But I don't. I want to be real. I want to be a real person. That's what an artist is. An artist has to be honest. Without honesty, there's nothing.
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