NEW YORK — Miley Cyrus said when she stole the night at last year's MTV Video Music Awards, she didn't realize her impact and influence. Now, the singer says she wants to use her powers for good.
The 21-year-old is assisting the Hollywood homeless center My Friend's Place by launching a Prizeo campaign, urging her feverish fans to donate to the cause assisting homeless youth. Cyrus brought a member of the center as her date to Sunday's VMAs at The Forum in Inglewood, California, letting him accept her award for video of the year.
"I think what I realized after my last performance at the VMAs, I didn't realize my platform, I didn't realize my power and I didn't realize my voice and how loud it is," Cyrus said in an interview Monday. "And I thought, you know, rather than sit here and talk about, 'Oh, on every news cover, every time you go to AOL or wherever you go everybody's sitting there talking about me,' instead of using it as a negative, how can I use it as a positive? If I'm going to be speaking this loud, what am I trying to scream at the world? And this is it. It's kind of a wake-up (call), which is what I had to do."
Cyrus said the high of winning awards and memorable performances doesn't last long, unlike her charity work.
"This fills you up and it feels good for a long time. ... I feel incredible today. I feel like I have a jet strapped to me and I am ready to take off from this," she said. "I feel like there's a way that I can incorporate everything I do in the future around youth homelessness. ... It just gives me more of a purpose. I tell everybody, I mean, dying a pop star is not what I want to have on my tombstone."
For the campaign, Cyrus is asking fans to donate $5 through Sept. 21, which will enter them in a raffle. Winners will meet Cyrus at her Sept. 28 concert in Rio de Janeiro.
"I can't really stop until I reach this goal. ... I just want to give my fans a real reason to use their power for much more than a VMA," she said of winning the fan-vote top award Sunday night.
Cyrus had a breakthrough year when she released "Bangerz" in 2013, which achieved platinum status and featured the hits "Wrecking Ball" and "We Can't Stop." The former Disney star said she's working on new music with the Flaming Lips, but said she's not pressuring herself to match her previous success or rush out new material to build momentum.
"With anything right now, I am just focusing on being the happiest and the best I can be because there were years I had to give out a lot of energy and now it's taking it all in," she said. "I just haven't been giving myself any kind of pressure. I grew up where I had pressure as a kid to work and to always have the next record ... and it's not really about that for me anymore."
"I'm really happy. I'm in the best place," she continued. "I'm just in constant gratitude of life. I'm in the happiest spot I've gotten to be in. I'm just beyond."