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Q) So can you talk about how you became involved in the role in the very beginning?
A) Yes, in the very beginning I had a meeting with Craig Zadan and he's been a long time friend of mine. I worked with him on Cinderella back in the day. And, you know, I expressed to him that I wanted to get back into acting. I started to feel that acting buzz again and he told me about Drop Dead Diva, gave me the first series to watch. And I fell in love with the show and they wrote the character Elisa Shane for me. And I relate to her so much in so many different ways and I'm just happy they gave me the great opportunity to be apart of such a great show and a great cast.
Q) Is there a specific scene without spoiling things you're kind of looking forward to fans seeing and everything?
A) Absolutely, I got a chance to work with Serena Williams this season on Drop Dead Diva. And it was so amazing to work with someone that you never thought about in the acting world. But she completely transitions and did such a great job and we had a great time working together. So I can't wait for the fans to see us in interacting just the whole story line with Elisa and everything that she's got going on this season. I can't wait to see what the fans think of her and what she's gone through.
Q) I was just wondering what is it you think Elisa's scared of with Parker? Is she afraid of how he'll impact her child?
A) I definitely feel like, you know, as an example, as a father I do see, you know, this season he really falls in love with - with our son without giving too much away. But I think there is a deeper feeling that she has for Parker. I think she's still in love with Parker but because of what he's put her through, she doesn't want to get her heart broken again. And like all women out there who's had their heart broken and sometimes they're afraid to - to try again and trust the same person that actually broke their heart. So -- and that's never good for, you know, when you have a child together, that's never good for the mom to be hurt and the mom and dad to, you know, not be in a good space for the child. So I think that's what she's afraid of.
Q) You have some amazing musical talents, is there a chance we'll get to be seeing you sing on the show?
A) I have not been asked yet to sing. No, so I don't - I don't think Elisa can sing, but that's why - that's why you have me, you know, to sing for you outside of the set.
Q) Coming back to the show what do you like about how Elisa has evolved from when you first appeared?
A) Well, I just like her - her drive and the fact that she really wants to dedicate her life to helping people. She's a nurse and, you know, I just love the love that she has for her son. And so to see her go after what she wants as well as, you know, take care of her child, you know, to the best of her ability is amazing to see. So I'm - I'm a bit inspired by her character because everything that's she's doing I would do for my daughter and what I want to do in my life for, you know, a higher purpose and what I'm supposed to do as far as taking care of my son or my daughter. So I love the character.
Q) Well, after growing up in the business what ways do you feel you've grown as a woman in order to play a character like Elisa more effectively?
A) Well, I am a mother. I was a mother very young. I had my daughter at 23. So I've had, you know, a lot of experience in that area, ten years experience as a mother. And Elisa's son is about the same age and I know what it's like to go after what I want. And I know priorities that mean everything to me in my life. And I think I relate to her in that way and you know I've been through a lot in my life. I've struggled, I've gone through so many different things and so, you know, I have all of that to pull from to - to get to this character and prepare for this kind of a character. And I've definitely had my heart broken. I've definitely - someone has definitely cheated on me in the past. So I've been there so I know exactly how she feels about the whole love thing with Parker.
Q) With the experiences you mentioned that you had similar to the character if you were to give advice to her about her situation, what would it be?
A) I would just tell her to keep doing what she's doing. Keep fighting for what she knows is right for her life. And, you know, we all feel - we all feel the fear. But we shouldn't let fear, you know, hold us back from doing what we feel is the best thing for us. And I think that's what she's doing so she really doesn't need advice from me. But that's - because that's what she's doing.
Q) Has there been anything in your life looking back that fear has held you from that you kind of regret?
A) Well, I try not to have any regrets in life. And I'm the type of person to face my fears and there have been so many circumstances where I've almost allowed my fear to hold me back but I feel so guilty about it that I'd go ahead on in faith. A recent fear that I've had was to do Dancing With the Stars. And that fear was so strong I felt so guilty when I was like, "No I shouldn't do it." And then the guilt just made me say, "You know what, I have to face it. I don't know how great I can be." And this other personal thing in my life that I've experienced that fear has almost got the best of me. But I just - I try to face it as much as possible and you realize on the other end of the stick, fear is just an illusion, it's not even real.
Q) I would like to know if as a celebrity have you ever felt the pressure of looking great 24/7?
A) Absolutely, I think this business is partially about, you know, always looking your best. You know, it's like now in this day and time it's like you can't go outside unless you look your best because, you know, paparazzi is around and, you know, they're dying to get a bad picture of you. So yes there is pressure there but I try to stay true to myself. You know, if I feel like makeup, fine. If I don't, fine. You know, it's whatever - it's whatever I'm feeling in the moment. I try not to let this business dictate what I do for myself. I do keep myself up. I do work out. I do try to take care of myself as much as possible. But that's for my health it has nothing to do with, you know, how I think people look at me or how they feel about me.
Q) In the last two years you say you star in the Game and of course Drop Dead Diva, how do the characters on these show in anyway influence your new album in terms of sound?
A) I don't think one has anything to do with the other. My music is completely separate from the characters that I play. And -- but in so many ways we all relate because we're all women and we go into the same - the same things. And we've been through the same things so in that aspect I guess there's the influence. But I try to keep my music and my acting as separate as possible because I want to give each as much time as possible in the different focus. So, yes.
Q) Now we've scene you play several characters over the years. You know, every character you play is Chardonnay to Moesha and you know the fans love. What was it about this particular character that you made you fall in love with her and make you want to take on this role?
A) Well, I have so much in common with her. I love what she stood for and I related to her in so many ways. And there was something so sweet about her spirit that I - that I completed connected to. And she's totally different than - than Chardonnay, like Chardonnay give me a different - a different freedom that Elisa doesn't. So I love being able to be as versatile as possible and I would love to play different characters. It's so much fun playing somebody that's not me. Moesha was so similar to me it's like, this is boring, I want to do something - I want to do something completely different than, you know, me and what I do everyday. So it's fun playing characters that are just, you know, different.
Q) Now as far as the characters, like you said, you like to keep your music and your acting separately, which would you say you immerse yourself more in as far as when it comes to your inspiration?
A) Well, my music is a little bit easier for me because I'm completely self. You know, I get in the studio and I - I just let go. I just close my eyes and I sing, you know, what I feel and whatever comes out, comes out. And pretty much my music is the soundtrack to every stage in my life. So I'm able to be transparent in my music and also able to just be free in music. With acting it's like I'm playing somebody completely different than myself. But also have to add pieces of myself to the character to bring the character to life. So that's a little bit more of a challenge because I'm playing somebody different. But I have to also bring the truth and the reality to that character as well. So that's a little bit more of a challenge for me, but I'm working on it and I'm definitely see a - a future in the acting for me because I have such a passion for it. So hopefully the roles can keep coming and I can keep, you know, doing what I do.
Q) I know you do such a great job at balancing them both. You started this at a very young age, has it become easier for you now to balance the acting and the music? Or is it kind of more - or is it harder since, you know, you got extra roles like mom and, you now, producer and all that extra stuff added to your plate?
A) Well, it's definitely - it's definitely a challenge to - I think for anybody to balance their life. But I think because I'm so hungry for - for -- to do what I want to do consistently all the time. I don't mind, you know, it being a harder challenge for me to balance. And I have a great family, a great daughter who understands what I have to do. And - and respects and receives time that I give them when I - when I'm not working so I have a great team around me to help me balance my - my crazy life. But I wouldn't trade this for the world really.
Q) I read online that you and Brooke are quite chummy and between sets you like to sing together. Working on a new album is there a chance that she might be featured on one of your songs?
A) You know what I did not think about that. I did not think about that. I'm going to make Brooke a deal. She can appear on - she can appear on my album if she lets me sing on Drop Dead Diva, that's fair right? Because they do - they do like little singing segments on the show and I was like, "Wow, they didn't even invite me to do any of that." So if Brooke wants to do a feature on this album, I need to sing on Drop Dead Diva. Let's go.
Q) I was just wondering if there's a chance we'll be seeing you in maybe Season 4 of Drop Dead Diva?
A) really want to go back. I - I just hope they have me back, like I said it's such a great cast and it's the friendliest set I've ever been on. It's fast, it's - it's just a great place to work. So I would love for them to have me back, really. You'll have to put in a good word for me.
Q) In your opinion, what do you feel is about the show Drop Dead Diva that resonates well with fans?
A) I just think it's real and it has so many different elements. It has the whole lawyer element. It has the relationship element and I just think it just deals with subject matter that so many people can relate to. And they have like the coolest celebs that come in and out. It's like I heard that Kim Kardashian's going to be on this season and Serena Williams and, you know, so they always have like good little things that they throw in. And so I think it keeps people interested in watching and, you know, I'm happy to - to step in and help too. So I'm happy about that.
Q) Has there been a standout moment on set for you when that kind of sticks in your memory, you know, that's particularly memorable for you?
A) Oh, it's so many great moments like the young lady that just spoken, you know, that just spoke -- talked about how Brooke and I would always sing and stuff like that. But there - there was a rat on set that was a part of a scene and I was -- I'm not - I'm afraid of rats like ridiculously afraid. And I had to be in the scene with the rat. You know, people were holding it and petting and I'm like, "These people are crazy." I'm like, "What is going on?" I don't do rats. So that's one of the moments that I'm like, "Oh, my god."
Q) How would you describe your character in Drop Dead Diva?
A) Well, my character her name is Elisa Shane. She is a nurse. She is a mother and she's a go getter and that's what I love about her that she stands up for what she believes in. And she really loves her son, you know, before her father died she took care of him and tried to give him the best life possible. And I'm just - I'm just happy that they chose me to - to play her because, you know, I have a lot of fun with her.
Q) You've been sitting on the top of the world so young. So did you enjoy with the time, do you think it was really hard or difficult sometimes?
A) Well, I definitely enjoyed it. You know, and I enjoy what I do, I love what I do. At times it was very difficult because, you know, you're growing up in the public eye. You know, when you don't know who you are at that age you're growing into, you know, developing, you know, into who you are, when you don't know that sometimes you can get caught into people pleasing and trying to please everybody but yourself. So I was able to take a break and - and take a look within myself and figure out some things, have a baby. And - and now come back with a sense of who I am. And now, you know, the journey back to the top with a journey, you know, back into entertainer - entertainment is my life. And it's a dream and it's exciting because now I have a sense of who I am.
Q) About Whitney Houston, I know you were big, very big fan of her and by you met her you did a movie with you and her. I mean what do you think about six months after do you really miss her, what's your feeling about her?
A) No, I really miss her. I miss her so much and I love her so much. And this is the person that I looked up to and she was the possibility for me. She was everything in terms of singing like everything could happen for me at one point in my life, she was the reason. And just her spirit was just infectious, her gift was just I can't even put into words what her voice meant to me and what she meant to me as a person. And she will forever be loved and missed and, yes, Whitney.
Q) You not only you are a singer but you are more. You are an actress. I would like to know where do you get the drive to do so many things at the same time?
A) Honestly, I just come to terms with the fact that acting, singing and all of these things are -- that I get a chance to share is a part of why I was born. It's my purpose. It's - it's a service and so I have so much that I have to fulfill. And when I'm doing the things that I love to do I don't feel fulfilled. So I think that's what drive me from the business is a service that I have to give to the people of the world.
Q) You have tried so many different looks in your time, in this past -- I guess in this era we have seen you with the - like the big hair at the Billboard Awards. You did the short hair for like a shoot and you say with these kinds of schedules has also been kind of barren moves you have made with your look. Because we're used to seeing you a certain way, what made you step out and try these different - these different looks that the fans have been loving from you lately?
A) Well, I think in the past that's, you know, I wore the braids for a long time and then, you know, things start to get a little weird with my look. So, you know, I've been practicing for years to try to get it right and I finally found the right team that I feel comfortable enough with to - to take chances. And so I think right now it's all about shock value for me. You know, when you've been gone for so long and people kind of forget who you are or, you know, so you try to do things to kind of shock and get people to talk. And so, you know, you can't do that with just music anymore. You have to do it all the way around. So that's all I'm trying to do, I'm just trying to take risks and chances with everything I'm doing from music to looks to videos to acting roles. You know, so I'm just trying to do it to - to get back out there consistently.
Q) When you hang up the mike and you decide to just do the family thing or whatever you - you choose to do with the rest of your life when you decide it's time to move on, what is the one thing that you hope people learn not only your fans but just people in general take from your journey of - of everything you've blessed us with throughout your life?
A) Well, that I realized that it was my purpose and that I gave everything - all I had. You know what I mean and so I really loved music and I really love everything that I did, you know, and I put my all into it. And at the end of the day like I said to the other young lady I'm just here for service, that's it. You know, and I realize that, when you grow up, you want to be famous, you want to be a star. You know, you want to be popular. You know, but it's not about that for me anymore. All that's great but it's really about living out my purpose and really giving back to the people who believed in me for all these years, you know.
Q) I was wondering if you could tell us the name of your new album?
A) The name of the new album is called, "2/11." And that's the day that I was born and, you know, every year I grow and I evolve and I become a different person every - everyday actually. But, you know, that year you celebrate the day you were born and you just - you just try to get better and better. And it's also the day that I lost my idol, but gained her as an angel but lost her in the physical. So that day has really become so special to me and I just dedicate my life to just living my purpose and doing what I'm supposed to do.
Q) Who do you admire the most right now as a singer?
A) Oh, I admire a couple of people. I absolutely adore Beyonce. I love Adele. I think she's great. Usher's a great artist, Chris Brown, it's so many great - great artists out there right now that I - that I love and admire, just those is just to name a few.
Q) And when can we expect a video for you new single, "Put it Down?"
A) It's coming soon in July. You can expect a video in July. I'm really excited about it, it's my first single since, you know, four years ago. So it's great to be back on the music scene. It's great to have a song with Chris Brown and, you know, it's going to be an amazing run I think hopefully in this cause.
Q) With your new video for "Put it Down" who's directing?
A) I can't tell you who's directing it. It's so sad because I want to tell you so badly. But it's going to be a - an interesting -- it's going to be a great video I believe and just the treatment is great. And, you know, just the extra addition with Chris Brown I just think it's going to be an epic video. I hope so because I haven't had one of those in a long time, so to be on this path it just feels really great.
Q) Aside from Chris Brown are there others on the album aside from Chris Brown?
A) I wish I could have had more but - but Chris Brown is the only feature on 2/11.
Q) With sounds I guess more R&B roots or kind of top 40 kind centric roots?
A) This album is definitely rooted in R&B. I think that's what's brought this thing for me for a long time. And so it's great to be back to my core but it definitely has a different twist and a different edge, a different sound. It's R&B - it's futuristic R&B.
Q) Will you be singing at the BET Awards?
A) I'm not sure about that, everything is up in the air right now. I would love to because I've never performed at the BET Awards and, you know, I've only been there maybe twice in my life. I would love to just be there, so everything's in the air but I - but I have a good feeling about it, so hopefully yes.
Q) You have a lot of amazing fans which you refer to as "Starz," what would you like to say to them?
A) Hi Starz! I've said so much to them I've written in paragraphs just how I feel about them. And I can just honestly just share with everybody on the phone that the stars they believe in me when I don't believe in myself. And they have kept me going besides my family they're like my extended family. And whenever I need to be uplifted I go and read their comments on Twitter and some of the emails that I've gotten from other stars that have sent me things from other Starz. So it's just - it's just amazing to have an extended that, you know, not only looks up to you but - but holds you up and makes you - and makes you shine. So that's why I call them stars because without them I - I couldn't shine. I couldn't be, you know, the type of entertainer that I want to be and that I'm growing into becoming.