Billy Ray Cyrus' daughter Miley has proven in just a few short years that she's a force to be reckoned with, not only as a popular television star but as a musician with success on both the pop and country charts -- and a Golden Globe nomination to boot. With the recent release of the blockbuster 'Hannah Montana: The Movie,' the 16-year old is also on the verge of becoming big-screen star. Heady stuff for a teenager, but Billy Ray believes Miley has risen to the occasion.

"The decisions and choices I've seen her make while watching her grow up and deal with life, I think she's held her head high and conducted herself with lot of pride and made good choices," says Billy Ray. "Even in spots where life gets funky sometimes, I think she's held her head high and adjusted and made strong choices."
Billy Ray, who knows what it's like to face tough criticism and to be the butt of hurtful jokes, is naturally quick to defend and protect his daughter. Case in point: crude jabs made recently on a radio show by actor/comedian Jamie Foxx, who said Miley needed to, among other things, "get a gum transplant ... make a sex tape ... and do some heroin."

Billy Ray addressed the remarks with strong words during an appearance on 'The Bonnie Hunt Show' this week. "There was nothing funny about it. And quite frankly, I think if I said those things about his daughter, he might not find it so comedic," Billy Ray told the audience. Foxx publicly apologized to Miley during an appearance on Tuesday's 'Tonight Show with Jay Leno.'

"I didn't mean it maliciously. You know I'm a comedian," he said, adding that he planned to call Billy Ray's daughter to offer a personal apology. "I got a daughter too, so I completely understand," he said.

Professionally, Billy Ray compares Miley to other stars he's worked with, including Dolly Parton and Heather Locklear. "I've worked with some great actors over the years," says the singer/actor who has a number of upcoming film roles himself. "There's Patricia Neal, who plays my mother in ('Flying By') on Lifetime. Then I worked with Jackie Chan and George Lopez in 'The Spy Next Door,' which is due out around Halloween."

So other than what she's no doubt learned from her dad's success, how does the younger Cyrus make it all look so effortless?

"Miley has something that translates to audiences and to film, and it resonates to fans as well," says Billy Ray. "I think it's realism and God's gift of timing. She has a great gift of timing that is just impeccable."

Miley's next film role will be in a Disney movie titled 'The Last Song,' which begins filming in Savannah, Georgia in June. The actress says it's about a girl from New York and that it's completely different from her current movie. The script, by Nicholas Sparks ('The Notebook'), was written specifically with Miley in mind. The film follows a rebellious teen who's sent south to spend the summer with her father.

Billy Ray's 'Flying By,' airs on the Lifetime network on April 18. It's the story of a businessman who decides to pursue his dream of playing in a rock band despite the possibility he might lose his family and fortune to that dream.