Olivia Rodrigo Says She Had an 'Identity Crisis' at 14 While Filming for Disney Channel

"Most 14-year-olds aren’t in a room with adults being like, ‘So, what’s your brand?’” the "Deja Vu" singer said in ELLE

Olivia Rodrigo for ELLE
Photo: Petra Collins

She's a cover girl!

On Monday, Olivia Rodrigo, 18, made her magazine cover debut with ELLE as she discussed her skyrocketing career, the difficulties of making it as a child star and the inspiration behind her songwriting.

Rodrigo — who started gaining recognition at 14 while starring on Bizaardvark on Disney Channel — said that that time in her life was very lonely.

"It's a multicamera sitcom, so literally every set is within a yard of each other. You just walk to the different sets," she said, saying she had "an identity crisis on steroids," even if she bonded with her costar Madison Hu, whom she describes as "literally my soul mate."

"Who the f— am I? Who cares about me? How do I treat people?" she recalled asking herself. "Most 14-year-olds aren't in a room with adults being like, 'So, what's your brand?'"

And although she was going through a lonely time while filming Bizaardvark, she had already started to discover her passion. In the interview, Rodrigo recalls "literally crying" before going to piano lessons as a 9-year-old, although those lessons ended up leading her to her true love: songwriting.

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"I realized that songwriting was something that people do, and it's a craft," she said.

Rodrigo's voice lesson instructor Jennifer Dustman said she "had chills from head to toe" hearing the young star perform her own track at such a young age. "I thought, Okay, she's a songwriter. That's it."

And it's her songwriting skills that have propelled the High School Musical: The Musical: The Series star to new heights after she dropped "Drivers License" in January, even if she worried she was "never going to write a song as good as that again."

"This song has given me a lot of confidence in my voice," Rodrigo said.

Olivia Rodrigo for ELLE
Petra Collins

"I think songwriting has really helped me home in on what I like about myself and my art," she added. "I just want to be effortless, I guess ... Whether it's in my fashion or my songs or my social media, I want to just be like, 'Yo, this is me. And I'm sometimes weird as f---, and I'm sometimes polished and put together."

Rodrigo also gave ELLE a glimpse at her "bedroom songwriting oasis" as she stays in Salt Lake City, Utah while filming for HSM:TM:TS. Her room features a "shrine" of some of her favorite songwriters: Taylor Swift, Gwen Stefani, Alanis Morissette and Gracie Abrams, and is also home to a guitar, electric keyboard and a whiteboard filled with song titles.

"It's songs that I love and want to reference, and songs that I've written that I want to clean up," Rodrigo explains.

The new interview comes several weeks before she's set to release her debut album Sour on May 21, featuring songs such as "Brutal," "1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back," "Happier" and "Hope Ur OK."

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