Hilary Duff, who first emerged on the public’s radar as the star of Disney’s enormously successful TV show "Lizzie McGuire", is also a devoted mom to son Luca, 10, and daughters Banks, 3, and Mae, 13 months. To understand how much she loves spending time with them, all one needs to do is scroll through her Instagram feed. You’ll find photo after photo of Duff and her kids delighting in each other’s company: wiggling through tummy time, posing in a pumpkin patch, seeing Justin Bieber in concert.
Duff’s childhood was slightly different, as she knew from an early age that she wanted to be in entertainment. She took acting, singing and ballet classes and was cast in local theater productions. Her mother moved her to California and enrolled her in home school so she could audition for roles and model. Now, with more than 20 years of experience in the entertainment business under her belt, Duff is keenly aware that while she had the support she needed to succeed, not every kid is as lucky.
So she’s made it a point to give back to young people in need, most recently by joining Walgreens for the Red Nose Day cause. Learn more about what brings her joy as a parent, and how the role of a lifetime—mom—inspires her to give back.
You’ve been involved in several children’s’ charitable causes, the latest being Red Nose Day. Why have you always focused on giving back to young people?
Kids don’t get to choose the circumstances they’re born into, and the fact that all kids don't have access to what they need is a huge issue. Anything I can do to be a part of making a child's life a little bit easier or to help them meet their basic needs is something I'm really passionate about. I’ll do all I can with my platform to spread the word and raise awareness.
I feel lucky that I’m able to provide my kids with everything they need. So, in turn, I plan on raising my kids so they’re aware of how kids’ circumstances differ. It’s important that they watch what I’m doing, see that I get involved and learn that there are things we can do to make the next generation of kids’ lives better.
What inspired you to get involved with Walgreens for Red Nose Day this year?
I've known about Red Nose Day for such a long time. When I got the chance to jump in and help spread the word, I was 100% on board. Walgreens and Comic Relief US have raised so much money for important causes through Red Nose Day, like getting kids access to health care, funding after-school activities, and providing food and nutrition to kids experiencing food insecurity.
Red Noses are back in stores and it’s promising they’ll help kids be kids again this summer. What brings you the most joy watching your kids be kids?
My kids are all different ages, and each of the ages has been so much fun. Right now, my 10 year old is super into sports, and we get to watch him learn how to be part of a team and grow confidence if he scores a goal playing soccer. Let me tell you—at first he wasn’t into sports at all, and now he’s a maniac about it! I’ve also loved watching my two older kids become big siblings to Mae—she just started walking. Banks is just my dancing daughter. She doesn’t go anywhere without dancing. It’s sweet to watch them form into who they want to be.
The simpler things excite me the most, like our family time in the morning and the hustle to get ready for school. Watching one help the other or making it through a colossal meltdown…it’s all special. I’m so lucky to have healthy, happy and kind kids.
Speaking of healthy, it’s never too early to teach kids about making healthy choices. How do you incorporate healthy living into your home?
I tend to be on the “it's all about balance” side of things. On one hand, we try to stick to schedules and the same bedtime so we get enough sleep. We drink water, we eat vegetables, but we also eat sugar and gluten. If they’re eating broccoli and nothing else, that’s fine, I’m not going to harp on it. I’ll wait a little bit and try to introduce something new and see how that goes. We take our vitamins. We try to make good choices for the environment. Health is not just about what we're putting in our bodies, but about taking stock of how we’re feeling and doing our best to thrive in all elements of our lives.
Banks and Mae are a bit too young, but how do you plan on teaching Luca how important it is to give back to others, especially to other kids?
The past two years, Luca has actually raised money or asked for gifts on behalf of other kids. It’s something his school has instilled in the students—they have a sister school that they partner with, and they give students the option of fulfilling those kids’ wishes as a way to celebrate birthdays. So we’ll raise money to help bring sports equipment or clothing or other supplies to the students of that school. It’s been really lovely to watch these kids see the act of giving for themselves. It’s not just talked about—we drop it off and they see that these kids look just like them.
That’s why it’s so great that this year, people can go out and buy Red Noses again at Walgreens to support Red Nose Day. It’s so easy to grab a couple from the store. You can donate for as little as $1 and know that 100% of your money is going to better kids’ lives. My kids are obsessed with the noses. We can’t help but talk in funny voices when we have them on. They’re a big hit, and they bring so much joy. It’s just such a great introduction to giving for kids of all ages.
Your parents were big supporters of your dreams to sing and act. What’s your message to kids today who have big dreams for their future?
Vocalizing your dream is just as important as expressing your interest through hard work. My son is always saying he wants to be on TV, and my first thought is, “Do you?” At his age, I was hounding my mom to get me in acting classes, and I was trying to find casting calls in the area. Showing the dedication to working is just as important as saying you have an interest in it.
When my mom saw how dedicated I was to being an actress, she helped facilitate it, the same way that parents who take their kids to soccer practice are facilitating dreams. It’s also the same way that the nonprofits that benefit from Red Nose Day can facilitate dreams for kids. As long as you have people around you who can provide support, you can get where you need to go.
How I Met Your Father was renewed for a second season—congratulations! What are your Walgreens must-haves when you’re on set, and when shopping for your family?
On set, I’m always reaching for a quick snack. I tend to eat a lot of pistachios. I tend to have a little stash of chocolate or Vitamin Water. Stocking my trailer is mostly about having treats or quick medications on hand. For my kids, I grab bath and hygiene products. For instance, I pack a bag for Luca’s camp and stock it with travel-sized things like hand sanitizer. They’re so convenient!
In-store shoppers can make donations at checkout, show their support and purchase a Red Nose for $1, and online shoppers can donate via Walgreens.com/RedNoseDay. One hundred percent of donations raised will go to Red Nose Day to fund critical programs that keep children safe, healthy, educated and empowered across the U.S. and around the world.