The spotlight has shined brightly on Miley Cyrus since she was 13. That was only four years ago, which still makes her a child in most books. But conventional measure hasn't applied to this pop culture phenom. As she celebrates her 17th birthday next week, Cyrus finds herself poised as the most valuable person at Disney -- even more so than CEO Bob Iger -- and her $1 billion (yes, B, for billion) "Hannah Montana" franchise puts her in the upper-earning echelon of all working entertainers.
Film acting is nothing new to Cyrus, who starred in "Hannah Montana The Movie" and voiced 12-year-old Penny in the animated film "Bolt." Yet with "The Last Song," Miley Cyrus graduates beyond the adolescence of "Montana." Her lead role in this film adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel ("The Notebook," "Nights in Rodanthe") indicates an eagerness on the part of Cyrus to gain recognition for serious acting. But will the spotlight be as kind as it is bright?
Hannah Montana -- Cyrus' defining role to date -- is the alter-ego superstar of a teenager whose talents frequently take backstage to a simple fact: she's just a girl, and perceived as such. Will the same be said of Cyrus' move into professional adulthood? "The Last Song" is certainly a significant step in that direction
In the film, she plays the 17-year-old daughter of divorced parents who is sent to spend the summer at her father's beach house. Like her dad (played by Greg Kinnear), she is a talented pianist, but she's conflicted about following in his footsteps. It will be Miley Cyrus' first movie to get a PG rating (though she also has a cameo role in the inevitably R-rated "Sex and the City 2").
How will audiences, young and adult, continue to respond as today's premiere teenage pop icon grows up so forcefully in the spotlight? We'll learn more when Miley Cyrus' new film "The Last Song" comes out in April of 2010. But you can view the trailer today right here on Yahoo! Movies.