Success has given music’s new breakout star an unexpected boost of confidence.

Olivia Rodrigo, the 18-year-old singer and star of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”, is on the new cover of Elle magazine and inside, discusses the success of her single “Drivers License”.

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Olivia Rodrigo – Photo: Petra Collins for Elle
Olivia Rodrigo – Photo: Petra Collins for Elle

“I thought I was going to be really in my head, like, ‘I’m never going to write a song as good as that again,’” she says of watching the song’s surprise success, but the opposite has happened.

“This song has given me a lot of confidence in my voice. I think songwriting has really helped me home in on what I like about myself and my art,” she says. “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**k, and I’m sometimes polished and put together.’ I think that’s the antithesis of a brand.”

Olivia Rodrigo – Photo: Petra Collins for Elle
Olivia Rodrigo – Photo: Petra Collins for Elle

Talking about the music that influenced her as a child, Rodrigo reveals her home was filled with punk and alternative rock, including bands like the Clash, the White Stripes, and Smashing Pumpkins.

“My mom would be like, ‘Screaming and yelling and all that grotesque stuff, it’s emotion. It moves me. That’s the point of music.’ I’ve always had that in my head: The point of music is to move you,” she says.

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Rodrigo also talks about being cast, at age 12, in the Disney Channel show “Bizaardvark”, and the loneliness she felt in that environment.

“It’s a multicamera sitcom, so literally every set is within a yard of each other. You just walk to the different sets,” she recalls, explaining that by the time she was 14, she was experiencing “an identity crisis on steroids.”

She adds, “Most 14-year-olds aren’t in a room with adults being like, ‘So, what’s your brand?’”

Olivia Rodrigo – Photo: Petra Collins for Elle
Olivia Rodrigo – Photo: Petra Collins for Elle

The personal lyrics of “Drivers License” have also prompted fans to dissect Rodrigo’s love life, with long threads on social media and more, but the singer sees that as a good thing.

“It’s truly any songwriter’s dream,” she says. “There’s something so powerful in being vulnerable and open, like, ‘This is my life, and I’m f**king sad.’ Or, ‘I’m insecure.’ That’s what makes songwriting so special.”