Singer and actress
Born Amanda Leigh Moore, April 10, 1984, in Nashua, NH; daughter of Don (an airline pilot) and Stacy (a homemaker and former reporter) Moore.
Fan club —Mandy Moore International Fan Club, P.O. Box 6079, Bellingham, WA 98227. Record company —Epic, 550 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022–3211. Website — http://www.mandymoore.com .
Signed with Sony label, c. 1999; released So Real and single "Candy," 1999; released I Wanna Be With You , 2000; released Mandy Moore , 2001; released Coverage , 2003. Hosted MTV show Mandy , 2000. Film appearances include: The Princess Diaries, 2001; A Walk to Remember, 2002; How to Deal, 2003; Chasing Liberty, 2004; Saved, 2004.
MTV Movie Award, breakthrough performance—female, for A Walk to Remember, 2002; Teen Choice Awards for choice breakout performance—actress and choice chemistry (with Shane West), for A Walk to Remember, 2002.
One of the teen singers who emerged from Orlando, Florida's late–1990s star factory, Mandy Moore has developed a reputation as a sweet, squeaky–clean pop diva. Her youth–oriented dance–
Born in New Hampshire in 1984, Moore grew up in Florida and decided she wanted to be a singer at age six, when she saw a school production of the musical Oklahoma. Voice lessons, a musical theater camp, and appearances in local musicals, such as a staging of Guys & Dolls in sixth grade, led her to sing "The Star–Spangled Banner" at an Orlando Magic basketball game at age nine, and soon she was nicknamed the "National Anthem Girl" and singing at several local sporting events. Work taping voice–overs, filming pilot episodes for Disney and Nickelodeon at their Orlando studios, and appearing in commercials led to her big break. A FedEx deliveryman who heard her sing for a commercial asked her for a demo tape, and he passed it on to his friend, Dave McPherson, a talent scout for Sony Records, who signed her to a recording contract with Sony's Epic/550 Records when she was 14.
Moore's first album, So Real, recorded in early 1999, was produced by Jive Records, hit–makers who had worked with Spears, the Backstreet Boys, and 'N Sync. Epic/550 and Transcontinental Media, instrumental in the success of the two boy bands, both debuted websites about Moore in March of 1999 to build interest in her. She toured with the two bands as an opening act in the summer of 1999, and kids flooded her autograph sessions after the shows (though a few Backstreet fans were hostile to her because of a false rumor she was dating Backstreet Boy Nick Carter). So Real, which Rolling Stone 's Matt Hendrickson described as "combining the requisite formula of up–tempo R&B ditties and sappy ballads," was released in fall 1999, and its early sales—40,000 to 60,000 copies a week—were modest for teen–pop acts with such aggressive promotion. But her first single, "Candy," caught on, and Moore returned in 2000 with the album I Wanna Be With You, which included new songs and remixed versions of "Candy" and other So Real tracks, while So Real itself reached the platinum million–selling mark. Moore was surprised by the sudden success. "It's really surreal," she told Hendrickson. "I thought a record company would sign an artist my age and wait until I was 17 or 18 before they started having me do stuff. But I just jumped right in."
By summer 2000, Moore was hosting Mandy, a daily half–hour call–in and video show on MTV, co–hosted by Carson Daly. That year, she signed a deal to appear in Neutrogena commercials. The press noticed that she was projecting a more innocent image than other pop stars; TV Guide noted that "she shuns the midriff–baring tops preferred by Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera and wears almost no makeup," while People declared she "packs a punch—without raunch." The next year, she released the album Mandy Moore, which stuck to conventional love–song sentiments ("I learned what love is/From loving you/I held you, I held everything I ever dreamed of," she sang on "From Loving You"). Entertainment Weekly 's Beth Johnson gave the album a B–, complaining that its lyrics were predictable, but saying its "Eastern rhythms [and] jangly percussives help separate her from the pack," while All Music Guide's Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave it 4½ stars, writing, " Mandy Moore manages to pack more hooks, melody, beats, clever production flourishes, and fun into its 13 tracks than nearly all of its peers—remarkably, it's a stronger album, through and through, than either of Britney's first two albums or Christina's record."
Moore appeared in her first film in 2001, The Princess Diaries, but said acting would not replace music in her life. "I probably will always be more passionate about singing. There's a rush I get performing live that's missing when I'm in front of the camera," she told Heather Matarazzo, another actress in the film, when they interviewed each other for Seventeen . (When filming started, Matarazzo disdainfully called Moore "Britney," so Moore got revenge by calling Matarazzo "Wiener Dog," the cruel nickname of her character in Welcome to the Dollhouse ; the two eventually became friends.) Moore dated actor Wilmer Valderrama of That '70s Show throughout 2001; they broke up later that year.
Movie stardom came in 2002, when Moore got the lead role in the melodramatic teen love story A Walk to Remember, playing an awkwardly dressed minister's daughter who falls in love with a popular boy. Though Entertainment Weekly 's Lisa Schwarzbaum called the movie a "teen–angel sobathon" and Moore's charms "unexceptional," Time declared that Moore showed "screen appeal and poise" and predicted that "when pop–star status deserts her, she might become a movie star, or something more precious: a fine actress." The movie earned more than $30 million within a month of its release, and Moore's portrayal of a pious character enhanced her clean image. In a People profile headlined "Gee Rated," Daly, her MTV co–host, called her "one of the most genuine, sweetest young female talents I've ever met" and wondered what it would be like to see her angry: "She's got to blow a gasket sometime, right? Maybe throw a teddy bear?" Moore discovered another way to stand out from other blonde pop stars: After A Walk to Remember 's director told her she would have to dye her hair brown to get the part, she decided to remain a brunette. It made her feel "more confident," she told People when the magazine named her one of its 50 most beautiful people of 2002 in May of that year. "I look at pictures of myself with blonde hair and cringe."
In her next major film role, 2003's How To Deal, Moore played a teen turned cynical about love by watching her parents and close friend struggle with relationship troubles. She spent part of 2003 in Prague filming Chasing Liberty, in which she stars as a First Daughter who falls for a Secret Service agent. The script called for her character to be nude in one scene, but she refused to take her clothes off on camera and selected a body double instead. She toyed with her image a little in Seventeen, listing 60 things she wanted to do before turning 30, including "Shave my head," "Drive a motorcycle," and "Get a tattoo." Meanwhile, a new romance developed with tennis star Andy Roddick. They met while she was filming How to Deal in Toronto and he was playing in a tournament there; when her mother went to watch the tournament, Moore had her invite Roddick to the set. Moore watched him win the U.S. Open in September of 2003. But when Roddick signed up to star in a reality show, The Tour, she did not want any part of it. "My personal life is my personal life, and it's behind closed doors," the Chicago Tribune quoted her as saying.
In fall 2003, she turned back to music. Just before her new album's release, she hosted cable network Lifetime's "Women Rock! Songs From the Movies," a special highlighting breast cancer awareness. "It's fun to take a break and be creative in another way, but it's nice to step back into these shoes," she told the Los Angeles Times. "I haven't really done anything music–related for the past two years, so this event comes at a time when I want to get my mind going on something else."
Her new CD, Coverage, was made up of songs by critically acclaimed '70s and '80s singer–songwriters such as Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, and John Hiatt. "We kind of did it unbeknownst to the record company. I found a producer I wanted to work with and we worked out of his garage studio and just did it," she told Entertainment Weekly 's Liane Bonin. "At 19, my musical tastes have changed.… I know it's a left turn for me, but I want people my age to hear this music." Reviews varied wildly. Ron Harris of the Associated Press, as quoted in the Chicago Tribune, wrote that the album sounded "like karaoke at a bachelorette party gone bad" and declared that Moore had "no personal touch" to add to the songs. But Spin declared it "the best collection of other people's songs since David Bowie's 1973 classic, Pinups. "
Moore lives with her parents and younger brother, Kyle, in a Los Angeles, California, home she bought for $1.7 million. (She also has an older brother, Scott.) With Chasing Liberty and the teen film Saved set for release in early 2004, and other film roles set to follow, some in the press speculated that Moore might have an even brighter future as an actress than a singer. "There's nothing like being onstage," she told the Los Angeles Times in late 2003—but talking to a writer for the Cincinnati Post a few months earlier, she seemed happy to see her career go either way. "If a record is successful, then there will be a tour and that takes time," she said. "If a film is successful and other opportunities are presented to me, then I want to take advantage of that, too."
So Real, Sony, 1999.
I Wanna Be With You, Epic/500 Music, 2000.
Mandy Moore, Epic, 2001.
Coverage, Epic, 2003.
Bankston, John, Mandy Moore: A Real–Life Reader Biography, Mitchell Lane Publishers, 2002.
Chicago Tribune, October 23, 2003, p. 32; November 5, 2003, p. 62.
Cincinnati Post, July 17, 2003, p. T5.
Entertainment Weekly, June 18, 2001; February 8, 2002; May 29, 2003; June 27/July 4, 2003, p. 30; July 16, 2003; October 24, 2003.
Interview, August 2003, p. 125.
Los Angeles Times, October 19, 2003.
People, July 3, 2000, p. 110; March 4, 2002, pp. 59–60; May 13, 2002, p. 175; August 25, 2003, pp. 106–09; September 1, 2003, pp. 81–82.
Rolling Stone, March 16, 2000, pp. 23–24.
Seventeen, July 2001, p. 122; August 2003, pp. 185–87.
Spin, November 2003, p. 28.
Teen, August 2001, pp. 155–58.
Time, February 25, 2002, pp. 62–63.
TV Guide, July 15, 2000, pp. 38–40.
Washington Post, September 8, 2003, p. D1.
"Mandy Moore," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com/ (November 30, 2003).
"Mandy Moore," Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0601553 (November 23, 2003).
"Mandy Moore," Rock On The Net, http://www.rockonthenet.com/artists–m/mandymoore.htm (November 30, 2003).
Official Mandy Moore Website, http://www.mandymoore.com (November 23, 2003).
— Erick Trickey