Page last updated at 07:54 GMT, Tuesday, 26 May 2009 08:54 UK

Talking Shop: Dani Harmer

Dani Harmer
Press reports suggested Harmer 's record deal was worth 3m

Like Miley Cyrus before her, Dani Harmer is hoping TV success will translate to the pop stardom.

The actress started her career aged six, in a West End production of Tommy, before landing the role of foster child Tracy Beaker in the BBC series of the same name.

Earlier this year, she signed a deal with record company Universal and has just released her first single, Free.

She talked to the BBC about her idols, the children who confide in her, and those comparisons to Hannah Montana.

Dani, it is only 10am. Are you aware that pop stars aren't allowed to get out of bed before midday?
Yeah, I know. I told everyone that, but they wouldn't listen. But I'm young… this counts as a lie-in for me.

The last series of Tracy Beaker finished in 2006. What have you been up to since then?
I did a bit of presenting on CBBC, a bit of radio for BBC 7, and now I am currently filming the second series of my sitcom, Dani's House.

The first went out last year and it did so well that we're making two series this year.

Why did you decide to release the theme tune as your first single?
We had really, really good comments on websites and all sorts of people were asking when it was going to be released so we just thought, "let's do it".

People might be surprised that the song is quite rocky. Who are the artists that inspire you?
Definitely the Avril Lavigne, Pink-type music. I quite like singers with a bit of attitude.

Dani Harmer
The 20-year-old is also filming a BBC sitcom, Dani's House

Do you have any of that attitude yourself?
I can do! I sometimes have attitude.

But when you're told to get out of bed at the crack of dawn you do it anyway…
Oh... I suppose so. Yeah (laughs). The people around me have a lot of attitude, too!

Was the musical career your idea?
I've always sung but I never really thought of it as a career until I was approached by a writer called Tom Nichols [All Saints, Kylie, S Club 7].

He works for a company called Juicy Music who are a sort of a combination of record label and agent, so they get you the record deal and then they help you record the album.

How did you find going into the recording studio for the first time?
Oh, I was sooo nervous! You sing in your own little room, and there's three or so people in there with you.

It's funny, because I'm used to having hundreds of people watching while I'm acting - and that doesn't bother me. But once I'd been recording for eight weeks solid, I sort of forgot about having inhibitions.

You recorded a duet with McFly on the album. How did that come about?
I just mentioned that I really liked them - I've met them quite a few times and they're cool guys - and luckily they agreed to do the track for me.

Did you call them up?
No! I wish I had their mobile numbers! But it was actually the record company.

What was your input to the recording process? Did you write anything?
Not this time, but if the album does well and we do a second one, I'll definitely be writing on that.

A lot of the ideas for the songs came from me - the things I'd been through. One of the songs is about my granddad, who I was very close to, and who I lost while I was recording the album. It just seemed like a natural thing to do, and it will help kids who've been through something similar.

Dani Harmer in The Story of Tracy Beaker
Harmer started filming Tracy Beaker when she was 12 years old

That seems to be a hallmark of your career. Tracy Beaker was very inspirational to kids who lived in care homes.
People do come up to me and confide in me sometimes. Kids in care, especially.

It's kind of an honour for someone to be able open up to you like that. I do try to keep in touch with people who write to me. I'll always write back.

The BBC announced a new series of Tracy Beaker earlier this year - with your character as an adult, working in a care home. Will you be going back to the show?
We're in talks at the minute, so we'll see what happens. I haven't talked to Jacqueline [Wilson, author] about it, but I know she's quite excited about the project, so hopefully it will go ahead.

You spent quite a lot of time in care homes doing research for the original series. What do you think about carers?
I just think they're absolutely inspirational. It's interesting to see how different people handle it. Some take the hard route, with lots of discipline, and others are just a friend for the kids to talk to.

Which would you be?
Probably by the latter. I can't be authoritative!

With your transition from children's TV to pop music, people will obviously make comparisons to Miley Cyrus. What do you think about that?
We're both actors and we're both singers and that's it, I suppose.

Did you see her on Jonathan Ross?
I didn't, but I heard she was quite obnoxious.

She certainly took control of the interview.
I think it is difficult, especially for her. She's so young and it's all happened overnight. Disney is such a big machine, churning all this stuff out. If you get everything handed to you on a plate and you don't grow up with it, like I have, you don't always know how to react. And you do sometimes make silly mistakes.

What's your best bit of advice for anybody in that position?
Don't drink Red Bull before you go on Jonathan Ross!

Dani Harmer was talking to BBC News reporter Mark Savage. Her single, Free, is out now.

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