Teen actress Hilary Duff quickly rose to fame on the strength of her winning performance on the successful television series Lizzie McGuire. Born in Houston, TX, September 28, 1987, she developed an interest in dance at the age of six and began taking ballet lessons, later making her stage debut in a Christmas production of The Nutcracker. She developed a stronger passion for acting after being cast in a television commercial, and, in 1998, appeared in the direct-to-video Casper Meets Wendy as Wendy, a youthful witch. After taking on more dramatic roles in the made-for-TV movie The Soul Collector and a guest appearance on Chicago Hope, Duff was cast in the title role of Lizzie McGuire in 2001. A sitcom for young people, Lizzie McGuire concerned the trials and tribulations of middle-school student Lizzie as she and her animated alter ego deal with the funny side of adolescence. An immediate hit on The Disney Channel, the show made Duff a recognizable face to television viewers, and Disney quickly responded by casting her in a made-for-cable movie, Cadet Kelly, which earned high ratings. In 2002, the actress also made a brief appearance in the offbeat comedy Human Nature, playing Young Lila, a hirsute child who grows up to become Patricia Arquette. After the success of Lizzie McGuire, Duff branched out into music, writing and singing a song for the show's soundtrack album, and recording a Christmas album in 2002. Released in theaters in the summer of 2003, The Lizzie McGuire Movie provided the ideal cinematic alternative for pre-teen girls uninterested in the exploits of X2: X-Men United and too young to be swept up in the hype of The Matrix Reloaded. Taking in twice the cost of production in only four weeks at the box office, Duff stunned fans less than a month after the film's stateside release by announcing that, due to contract negotiation failures, she would be departing from the lucrative Lizzie McGuire franchise to pursue other career opportunities. By the time the show's finale aired in 2004, Duff had already kicked her film career into high gear, closing out 2003 with three hit films under her belt: Agent Cody Banks, the aforementioned Lizzie McGuire Movie, and the holiday blockbuster Cheaper by the Dozen. Hoping to keep her momentum growing, Duff attached herself to another trio of features, two of which were helmed by Lizzie McGuire director Mark Rosman. The first was the drama Raise Your Voice, playing a small-town girl who learns to fight for her superstar dreams. In 2005 she returned for the sequel Cheaper by the Dozen 2, and starred opposite Heather Locklear in the Mermaids-like romantic comedy The Perfect Man. In 2006 Hilary starred and produced in the Martha Coolidge helmed Material Girls, where she and sister Haylie played spoiled heiresses whose lives change radically when their family loses its fortune. The butter-knife sharp satire failed to connect even with the Duffs' core audience.