Bob and Susan Duff welcome Hilary to the family. Sister Haylie, who is two years older, inspires her sibling throughout childhood: "I always wanted to be like my older sister Haylie. When she learned to ride a bike, I had to as well. If she took ballet lessons, I did too. I took singing lessons because she did. It all just got more intense until it turned into careers for both of us," Duff tells the Calgary Sun.
Duff, 6, and Haylie, 8, land parts in the ballet The Nutcracker Suite in San Antonio. The sisters later relocate to California from Houston with their mother to break into acting. Dad stays at home to maintain a chain of convenience stores in the Houston area.
After appearing in a few TV commercials, Duff lands the lead role of Wendy in the feature-film comedy Casper Meets Wendy. The part marks Duff's first major role in a motion picture.
Duff lands a part in the pilot episode of the NBC sitcom Daddio, starring Michael Chiklis. But the actress nearly gives up on showbiz after being dropped from the cast before the show airs. Despite the disappointment, Duff makes an impression. "After working with her the first day," Chiklis later tells the New York Daily News, "I remember saying to my wife, 'This young girl is going to be a movie star."
Duff auditions for Disney's comedy show Lizzie McGuire and is cast as the title character. The show eventually draws two million viewers per episode, becoming the network's highest-rated offering, making Duff a household name with the tween set.
Singer Aaron Carter guest-stars on Lizzie McGuire. The two thirteen-year-olds eventually begin dating on and off for nearly two years. But it's the alleged love triangle between Carter, Duff and fellow teen star Lindsay Lohan, 14, that prompts a feud between the actresses. "Sometimes I feel like I really hate her, which is pretty extreme for me because I don't hate anybody," Duff Blender.
Duff gets a shot on a major motion picture, playing the younger version of Patricia Arquette's character in Human Nature. She then stars in the Disney Channel film Cadet Kelly, which becomes the network's most-watched program in its 19-year history.
Duff releases the holiday album, Santa Claus Lane, a collection of Christmas songs that eventually goes gold. It includes duets with Lil' Romeo, Christina Milian and Duff's sister Haylie.
Duff plays a damsel in distress opposite Frankie Muniz in Agent Cody Banks, which grosses nearly $50 million. She hits the big-screen again with The Lizzie McGuire Movie, which grosses more than $50 million.
After talks of renewing Duff's contract, Disney announces that it has split with the rising star due to differences over the direction of her career. "We gave them a very generous offer and unfortunately they passed," a Disney spokeswoman says to Reuters. "Hilary is a great girl and we truly wish her the best of luck."
BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): COURTESY DUFF FAMILY; EVERETT; EVERETT; Lester Cohen/WireImage; DISNEY CHANNEL/EVERETT; Everett Collection