Issue Date: July 26, 2009
The mostly sunny life of a pop princess
Teen star Demi Lovato has a TV show, hit movie and a new soulful CD. But, as she tells us, her school days were a page out of "Mean Girls."
By Lola Ogunnaike
While most kids her age have spent the summer relaxing, Demi Lovato, 16, has been in the midst of one of the most hectic seasons of her life. Last month she kicked off a 44-city tour that takes her from San Jose to Manchester, N.H., in a little more than two months. The Dallas-bred singer could not have been more excited.
"It's my first time headlining a tour," says Lovato, who spent last summer as the opening act for a kinda well-known trio. "Last year I wasn't sure if the fans were there for me or the Jonas Brothers," she says. "Now I'll know they are there for me."
The fans are there for her, indeed. Lovato's first album, 2008's "Don't Forget," debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts. Starring alongside the brothers Jonas in the sugary Disney Channel singalong, "Camp Rock," has made her a household name with the tween set, who now Twitter her like crazy. "I have thousands of friends," she says. "I'm constantly on Twitter. I'm addicted."
Her new album, "Here We Go Again," released July 21, may attract fans who are actually old enough to drive. It still has the slumber-party rock Demi-philes have come to love, but several songs have a soulful vibe. "My mom [a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader] is a huge R&B fan, so I grew up listening to Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight," Lovato says. "I wanted to sing more mellow songs this time. It doesn't always have to be upbeat and edgy."
Whatever she's doing is working for Disney, which produces her hit show "Sonny With a Chance." "She reminds a lot of people here of a young Mary Tyler Moore. She has a real winning disposition," says Adam Bonnett, a senior vice president for the Disney Channel. "I have full confidence that the opportunities that happened for Miley Cyrus will be there for Demi. She's so focused."
But she wasn't always so popular. Lovato recalls how mercilessly she was bullied in junior high. The girls were vicious and relentless, she says: "They had an 'I hate Demi' wall in the bathroom and a hate petition. They would say I was promiscuous. And that's putting it lightly."
The verbal abuse never abated. "For that entire year, I had the lowest self-esteem," she says. "Some days I wish they would've beaten me up and just gotten it over with."
These days she's not worried about those mean girls. Lovato is having too much fun. She laughs off persistent rumors that she's dating one of the Jonas Brothers. "I love them to death, but they're not my type," she says. "I like rock guys -- guys who wear black skinny jeans and have tattoos. Bad boys."
With a crammed to-do list, Lovato doesn't have time to be sidetracked by boys. Her Disney Channel movie "Princess Protection Program," in which she co-stars with best friend Selena Gomez, aired June 26. "Camp Rock 2" begins filming next month. "I want to write my own book and my own script, and direct and go to college," Lovato says. "I think I can get that done in five years ... maybe even three."
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Demi Lovato: Fun facts
Born Demetria Devonne Lovato on Aug. 20, 1992.
First acting gig was on "Barney & Friends."
Shops at Urban Outfitters for clothes and Barneys New York for shoes.
Favorite musician is Kelly Clarkson.
Loves the "Twilight" books but says she won't be on the soundtrack for the movie sequel, "New Moon," despite rumors.
Calls her mom and prays with her before performing onstage.
-- Stephanie Ostroff