Mandy Moore's Journey From '90s Idol To Serious Actress Is Inspiring To Us All

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 04: Actress Mandy Moore attends the Lela Rose Los Angeles Dinner on November 4, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for Lela Rose)
Source: Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

From teen pop star to mom, Mandy Moore is back and officially all grown up on the NBC series This Is Us. No spoilers here, but, if you're one of the 10 million viewers who Variety reported saw last week's This Is Us premiere, you've probably already fallen in love with Moore if you weren't already a big fan in the '90s. For those who can remember a very young and a very blonde Moore singing about missing someone like candy, it's definitely clear that times have changed. But one thing that manages to stay the same is that Moore has been quietly making music and movies that have helped a whole generation of kids and teens grow up.

If you came of age in the midst of the pop princess boom, you may have chosen Mandy over Britney or Christina. When it comes to teen tearjerkers, Moore has done it all. She's been the overwhelmed daughter of a nagging Diane Keaton, of the President of United States, and of a mom who wanted to keep her locked away in a tower. She's also been a teen figuring out how to deal with the confusion life always seems to be throwing you. But, at 32, Moore's no longer the young ingénue, and her latest role proves she's entering a new phase in her career — oe that will likely lend itself to some new teachable moments for those fans who are entering their 30s.

Celebrating this new stage in Moore's life is enough to make anyone nostalgic for those moments of her past. Let's take a stroll down memory lane to Moore's greatest hits from the '90s to the present.

1. "Candy" (1999)

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This one's so sweet, it's bound to give you a toothache, but it also defined Moore as a teen pop princess who really seemed like she was just another teen. She was the relatable one that you actually thought you could be friends with. You know, the one with whom you'd go to the mall and check out what's new at the Limited Too. 

2. "I Wanna Be With You" (2000)

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Before there was Step Up, there was Center Stage, which made us all want to take up ballet and hopefully find more than just a dancer partner. Moore looks like the prima ballerina in this video for the film, but sounds like a more mature, but still lovelorn, version of the "Candy" girl. This was the perfect song to sing while pining away in your bedroom.

3.  "In My Pocket" (2001)

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For her third self-titled album, Moore went a little worldly. The album had her ditching her naïveté to explore the idea of jumping right into a love affair that may be wrong, but feels so right.

4. "Crush" (2001)

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The singer was back to her sweet self on this song that has her proclaiming her love to — who else? — her crush, who's got her feeling all warm and tingly inside. Oh, teenage love.

5.  Princess Diaries (2001)

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Moore gets to play the bully that just can't leave Anne Hathaway's Mia Thermopolis alone. It's why so many people got excited over seeing Lana get coned. Turns out, getting ice cream smudged onto your outfit is the Disney equivalent of a sick burn.

6. A Walk To Remember (2002)

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This is certainly Moore's most iconic role, the one that should have you in full-on tears by the end. If this tearjerker about a cancer-stricken teenage girl trying to make the most of her life before it's taken away doesn't leave you needing more tissues, you are either a much stronger person than most or a straight-up robot. You can quote me on that.

7. How To Deal (2003)

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Life isn't easy when you're a teen, but, for any teens in 2003, Moore was there to help you get through all the confusing moments, which include bad engagements, teen pregnancy, not-so-great dads, and the scariest topic of all: young love.

8. Chasing Liberty (2004)

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In a year where Moore and Katie Holmes both got a chance to play the put-upon daughter of the POTUS, Moore got to be the one who gets to backpack around Europe in with a very handsome guy. Of course, she doesn't really know that the cute Brit she met isn't really just some random guy, but an agent tasked with keeping her safe. 

9. Saved! (2004)

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Moore looks good being bad in this religious satire for teens. She may be ridiculous with her exorcisms and all-girl Christian rock bands, but she will also keep you laughing throughout it all with her less than Christian values.

10. Because I Said So (2007)

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This movie gets at the sometimes less than stellar relationship women have with their moms. Diana Keaton thinks she knows what's best for her daughter, played by Moore, and what we find out is that she really, really doesn't. Warning: this one will definitely make you hungry with all the food porn, so definitely keep something sweet on hand. 

11. Tangled (2010)

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The story of Rapunzel gets a modern jolt in this Disney animated movie, where Moore's version of the long-haired hostage is more than just a pretty face. She's a full-on bad ass.

The singer and actress may be showing off a different side of herself on This Is Us, but, for those who grew up in the 2000s, she never went away. She's always been in our teenage dreams, reminding us of what it was like coming of age in the new millennium. She might now be here to usher us into adulthood, but, as this list shows, it's always worth getting a little nostalgic about how far we've all come.

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