Nov. 17, 2007 — -- When Mandy Moore first arrived on the pop culture scene in 1999, the 15-year-old was one of a string of blonde-haired beauties singing saccharine-soaked singles.
But the now-brunette singer has matured into a respected Hollywood actress and a songwriter. The 23-year-old has spent the last three years working on her album, "Wild Hope."
For Moore, who was discovered by a FedEx worker who passed a studio as she sang, the music is a vast departure from her first hit single, "Candy" and the tunes she once sang as opening act for the Backstreet Boys.
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"I signed a record deal and put that song and that album out when I was 15 years old," Moore said.
As her music has grown, so have the other aspects of the career. But she still has a passion for music.
"I think most people ... were sort of unaware that I was still singing," Moore said. "I think they thought maybe I was strictly focusing on acting. So that kind of alleviated a lot of pressure. And I knew that because of that I wasn't going to compromise, and I really was going to make the record I wanted to make".
The music is just part of Moore's aspirations. Even with three movies under her belt and a clothing line, Moore has escaped the troubled trappings of her young Hollywood peers.
"It's a testament to my parents," Moore said. "It's the way that I was raised."
But Moore would still have wise words for her young self.
"If I could talk to myself at 15, I would say, 'Really take the time to appreciate everything that's happening,' because it all feels like such a blur to me at this point," Moore said.
"I would say, 'Really surround yourself with good people that really are looking out for you, whether that's family or really good friends,' because I kind of feel like that's the key to everything," she added. "It keeps you sane, keeps you grounded and keeps you happy."
Yet Moore believes while happiness is important, part of the creative process is driven by pain.
"I believe heartbreak is definitely part of the recipe," she said. "It's sort of, you can't have one without the other. I don't believe anybody's happy all of the time. So for me, this record was a great, kind journey and adventure, and sort of figuring out so much about myself."