Teen pop sensation Miley Cyrus is stepping back into the spotlight, promoting her new album "Breakout" and calling the provocative photos of her published in June's Vanity Fair magazine a "mistake."
The revealing photos caused an uproar and threatened to tarnish the 15-year-old's squeaky-clean image when they were released back in April.
"I think I was just in a stage where I was just trying to get things done, and maybe look for an older audience. I was working with a big magazine just trying to go with what they were saying," Cyrus told "Good Morning America's" Robin Roberts, speaking in an exclusive interview for the first time since the Vanity Fair photo shoot.
Cyrus described the ensuing criticism that she faced as a "hard time," and said she now "knows what it's like to have people talk about you like you're kind of iron."
"People need to remember that I am young and that I do have feelings, and I'll do the same thing for them."
"Anyone who was 15 years old can't say they haven't made a mistake. So I think it's just normal," she said.
Eager to move on from the controversy and promote her new album, the pop prodigy explained that she has now learned "to stay true to yourself," adding "I think it does make me more relatable [to my fans]."
Cyrus' comments come at a time when she is trying to emerge from the shadow of her Disney Channel alter-ego Hannah Montana and stake out an identity of her own. (Disney is the parent company of ABC News).
"I was like, 'OK, no one's gonna show up,'" Cyrus told Roberts, explaining her anxiety before performing for thousands of screaming fans in Bryant Park during "Good Morning America's" summer concert series last Friday.
For a star who took home $175 million from her last tour, it may sound hard to believe, but Cyrus explained she felt "really, really nervous" beforehand because the new album feels so much more personal.
"It's my breakout record ... To finally not be hiding behind a wig or a character. I'm like 'OK, this is really gonna hurt because these are songs that I've written that are really important to me and things that I want to say.' So that did make me nervous, but I'm really excited," she said.
The energetic turnout of die-hard Miley devotees, some of whom camped out on the street overnight, went wild as she belted out the title song from the new album as well as "7 Things" and "On the Bottom of the Ocean."
"Breakout" goes on sale in stores across the country on Tuesday, and Miley says she is still working full-steam ahead on upcoming projects, including wrapping up filming of "Hannah Montana" the movie and promoting the animated feature "Bolt," to which she leant her voice alongside John Travolta.
Miley's Not-So Normal Life
"I don't know if I could go back to a normal life. I think it would be too hard."Cyrus told Roberts. "It's weird because I feel very normal…but then sometimes I want to go to the mall…and I'm thinking I'm totally gonna be fine and be able to shop around, [but] it's not like it is for a normal teenager."
"It will be really funny when I'm laughing with my friends and they're like 'OK, you're on a totally different planet,' because I'm like 'oh, I bet that's how school is and this and that….
"My friends are like, 'Oh my gosh, it's totally different. It is not all happy and smiley. It's probably much harder than your job, what you do Miley,'" Cyrus explained.
But with a billboard-topping music career, acting jobs and school work (three hours of tutoring a day), Cyrus says it has been a challenge to balance it all and find the time for her love of writing music.
"Anytime I'm working, I give 120 percent to what I'm doing. That's why it's really hard when you do have a thousand things going on at once....It's super hard to write music while you're doing a show and your mind's focused on acting.
"As I do get older I see that you can really do both," Cyrus said of balancing acting and music. She cited Dolly Parton, the country music singer and actress, whom she affectionately calls Aunt Dolly, as a role model. "I look up to [Parton]...we're so much alike. I want to follow in her footsteps."
Cyrus said she dreams of taking a "real vacation" (ideally Bora Bora), but for this workaholic teen, heading back into production of the third season of "Hannah Montana" the T.V. show in August "is kind of like a break, it's like my vacation [laughs]. It's nice to finally be in one place, all the time."
"When I'm getting to perform is when I'm happiest. Anytime I'm on a stage, I'm totally excited," she said.