WHEN I PERFORMED AT THE American Music Awards last November, it was the first time I felt like I had hit the big time, because I had to sing in front of all my peers. I was, like, “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” I had never performed in concert before. I didn’t sleep the night before the show, I was so nervous.

The day of the awards, my band didn’t have that much time to practice. After I put my makeup on, I hung out with my sister and a couple of my friends in my hotel room. It was a fun day, but it was very rushed. There were camera crews and photographers inside the hotel room because different magazines were covering the AMAs. I’m used to the pace, but that day I was just worried about singing.

I rode to the AMAs in an SUV with my sister and my publicist. I did the red carpet, and then I had to go backstage. I wore this great skirt that was all beaded—it was really short, and it had feathers coming off of it—and these beautiful Dolce & Gabbana shoes and a black tank top layered over another one. And then I had this really nice pearly necklace. My stylist chose my outfit because I don’t have time to go shopping; I wish I did. So I sat down for a little bit and watched the show, and I saw that all these stars were right up front. I thought, “I’m going to be looking at them when I’m performing.” So scary.

I did my show, and I was so nervous I thought I was going to throw up. One hard thing about the setup was, they don’t have the mosh pit anymore. They used to have all the fans up front, but now they’re in the back. All the people who were used to seeing the show were in the first few rows, and I got absolutely no energy from them. But I was okay once we totally rocked out and had a great time. At one point I did this thing where I got down on my knees and started going kinda crazy, like swinging my hair around, stuff like that, and when I looked up I saw Faith Hill. She was right in front of me, and I was, like, “Ummm . . .”

After the performance, I went backstage and changed into my sweatpants. We went back to the hotel and watched the whole thing on TV while the roadies loaded our stuff onto the bus. The next day, we drove to our first tour date. I used to think, “I can’t perform in front of these people!”—I said that, what, three months ago—and then last night I did a show for more than 13,000 people.

Some kids have success too quickly, and they take it for granted, but it definitely didn’t come too fast for us. My family came to California from Texas about five years ago, and I struggled a lot with auditioning until I finally got the TV show Lizzie McGuire. Back when we lived out in the Hill Country, in Boerne, we had so much land that I ran wild. I never really got into listening to music. When I got older I started listening to Hanson and the Spice Girls, and then my mom made me listen to all of her old music, like Janis Joplin, Carole King, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones. I hated them then; I’d cover my ears and yell. But now I love them.

I don’t really like the term “pop star.” When people hear it they think cheesy, kiddie kind of music, and that’s not what my music is like. Although I guess Britney Spears is considered a pop star. Everybody is called a pop star. And “pop” is short for “popular,” so I guess it’s a good word, you know?

Hilary Duff, 16, lives in Los Angeles. Her debut album, Metamorphosis, went triple platinum in January.