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"And I totally left it up to an 8-year-old little girl," Dianna says. "I told her, 'You know what the chances are. You know this business that we've been in so far. If you really would like to do the acting career and the singing and the dancing that goes along with it, you're going to need to stay behind with your aunt while we go. If you don't want to do that, and you want to go have your fun for the week, I totally understand that. I'm going to leave it up to you.' She thought about it for three seconds and said, 'I need to stay here.'"
Demi's no less in control on this late May afternoon, as a morning photo shoot extends into the late evening. Not once during the six-hour shoot does Demi ever talk to her stepfather, Eddie, a former football and baseball star at Irving MacArthur High School and Texas Tech University. Eddie keeps to himself while Demi goofs around with Selena, with whom she will share the cover. She also giggles with the gaggle of stylists tending to her hair, clothes and makeup.
"I need him in the mornings and at night and for support," Demi says. "Some days it gets so stressful that I can be in tears. Camp Rock was my first movie, and in the first two weeks, I got really sick of exhaustion. I was in my trailer sweating. Drips of sweat were just coming off me because I was so stressed. It really does affect your health—how much you work, especially being this young...But you get used to it. You can't always rely on your parents, too, when you're the one who has to do the lines and you're the one who has to focus. They can't be doing the scene with me. But I need them 24/7."
Eddie keeps to himself, tending to e-mails—sponsorship offers, contracts, fan mail—while observing from a safe distance. After all, that is his job now: He's Demi's manager, a job he shares with Kevin Jonas Sr. and 25-year-old Phil McIntyre, who also handles the Jonas Brothers. McIntyre worked his way up through the management ranks by tending to Britney Spears' every need during concert tours, till he wound up forming Philymack management based in Los Angeles.
Philymack's a young vet; Eddie's a rookie in his early 40s. For 20 years, Eddie sold Fords at two of North Texas' biggest dealerships: Westway in Irving and Five Star in Richland Hills. Then, in January, he quit.
"I think it was actually January 27," he says. "I came out here for a three-day meeting on January 28, and I haven't been home since. It's been crazy. I went out here and met with some music producers and some music managers and had a lot of meetings, and all of a sudden, I'm on a plane to catch up with the Jonas Brothers tour, and we were on the tour for the next three weeks. One thing leads to another, they've been writing songs together...I haven't been home in almost three months now!"
Eddie is asked: How does a man who's sold cars most of his adult life prepare himself for the life of show-biz dad and manager of a rising star?
"I don't think you can," he says, his grin spreading. "As much as we've been working on it for seven years, when it reaches up and grabs you like it just did, I don't think anybody can prepare for it. It's taken a life of its own, but in a good way. It's been very good."
Dianna describes it thusly: "It's been a tornado. A Texas twister."
But this whirlwind is of their own design. Demi's too. OK, mostly Demi's. That is what everyone says. What everyone insists. It was Demi who asked for singing lessons. It was Demi who begged for acting lessons. And it was Eddie who paid for them. And it was Dianna who drove her to them. And it was not easy.
"We just searched for routes and ways to make it, and that's what it really takes," Demi says. "You're not always presented with the opportunities, but we went out and we searched for it, and that's why this business is so hard to make it in.
"Looking for that opportunity is such a journey and such a challenge. My dad has really good instincts. We pray about them. There's not a lot you can do when making decisions on your career that could result in being tied down to the wrong agent or manager or something, which fortunately never happened to us...Finding those outlets were definitely difficult, and it's not cheap either."
The acting lessons were in Coppell, with Cathryn Sullivan, who's also the mother of Cody Linley, an occasional guest on Hannah Montana. Guitar lessons were in Keller. And the singing lessons were in Addison at Linda Septien's vocal studio, which unleashed the likes of Jessica and Ashlee Simpson and Ryan Cabrera. Demi spent years in class—the proverbial apprentice who quickly became the star of master's classes.