Dolly Parton Said She Always Knew Goddaughter Miley Cyrus Was a "Star"

"I just knew she was going to make it," Parton said.

Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus
(Image credit: Kevin Winter)

The legendary Dolly Parton is Marie Claire's latest cover star, and she spoke to the equally legendary RuPaul about her career, her family—and her goddaughter, one Miley Cyrus. Parton told RuPaul she recognized Cyrus' talent at a young age, adding, "We all need to be true to ourselves, and I think that’s what she’s doing."

"I love Miley. I think she’s great. She’s out there, and I love that she takes her chances. I love that she’s true to herself and that she’s willing to try new things and do whatever," Parton said of her goddaughter. "I’ve always loved her, since she was little, and I knew she was special. She just had a light about her. Her sparkle, and her smile, and her eyes were always full of wonder."

Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton

(Image credit: Kevin Mazur)

Cyrus' talent became particularly apparent when she starred in Hannah Montana (on which Parton guest-starred), the country legend reflected. "When she was on that little show, I saw what great timing she had, what a great little comedian she was," Parton said. "But I’d always known her to write her little songs on her little left-handed guitar. I guess Billy Ray is the lefty. And so she just kind of grew up with us. With Billy and me—Billy Ray, her dad, we were friends and we worked a lot together, doing shows together, traveling some. But I just knew she was just going to make it. I just knew she was a star."

Commenting on Cyrus' "wild" public image, RuPaul asked Parton, "Do you ever envy that you never had a chance to be that wild?" Parton responded, "No, I never needed to be that wild. But I think it’s fine for her. I’m kind of wild in my own way. I have my own little things, and I’m an individual, and I think that’s what that’s about too."

"We all need to be true to ourselves, and I think that’s what she’s doing," Parton continued. "I think that’s the key to everybody’s success as a human being and as an entertainer. You have to know what your talents are, what your limits are. But I think you have to be brave enough to try."

"One of my favorite sayings that I say about myself, that I made up, is that my desire to do something has always been greater than my fear of it," Parton said. "So I think that Miley often gets out there. She will get out there and get on that tightrope without a net underneath her. But how else are you going to know? She’ll take those chances. And I take chances too. We just do it in a different way. But I do think she’s a pro. I just think she’s so talented, and she’s beautiful."

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Dolly Parton

(Image credit: Marie Claire)
Emily Dixon
Morning Editor

Emily Dixon is a British journalist who’s contributed to CNN, Teen Vogue, Time, Glamour, The Guardian, Wonderland, The Big Roundtable, Bust, and more, on everything from mental health to fashion to political activism to feminist zine collectives. She’s also a committed Beyoncé, Kacey Musgraves, and Tracee Ellis Ross fan, an enthusiastic but terrible ballet dancer, and a proud Geordie lass.