Q: What attracted you to this project?
I actually was attracted to the project because the writer of the screenplay, which is Galley Molina, this movie is loosely based on his life story, he had his heart set on having me play the role of Vanessa Leon. And he had actually heard, through one of my bios or an interview, that I was raised in the church, I come from a church background. My mother was superintendent of children’s ministries for the assemblies of God, my dad was worship leader, so I literally grew up in the church, that’s my foundation. So he was seeking me out, calling agents, they’re like “This guy Galley is calling, you really should just read this script or at least get on the phone call with him.” So I got on the phone with him and I had the best conversation with him. In that moment I realized that this is going to be a passion project. He sent me the script later on, I fell in love with the script, I loved the message that it had. And I was like, “you know what, after all the blessings God has given me and everything that I’ve done this is the tiniest thing I can do to give back. To give a good message of faith and hope out there.”
Q: Were you involved with the project before Ja Rule or any of the rest of the cast?
I didn’t know that Ja was attached yet. I think Ja was originally attached and I just didn’t know about it. I found out lway later.
Q: Were you excited when you heard about him being your co-star?
Yeah! Absolutely I’ve known Ja for years. Back in my 3LW days, at the time we were running around the same promo with his album, it’s so crazy (because) on a lot of your Summer Jams, 3LW would be one of the opening acts and he would headline it. He’s always been such a great guy, it’s so crazy that when we did the movie because we were comfortable with each other, we had great chemistry and it worked out perfectly.
Q: During our interview with Ja himself, he mentioned that to make a big hit in hip hop nowadays requires a strong female hook, do you think that collaboration could happen between you and him?
Hey you never know! I’m totally up for it, Ja’s had hit after hit after hit, he is the soundtrack to my youth and I’d be honored.
Q: Are you currently working on a new album right now?
I am, it’s so crazy how everything works out in perfect timing. After doing “The Real,” I think it made sense now that people actually know me and have gotten to know me. I think a lot of the times there’s a disconnect. Especially with me coming from the “Cheetah Girls,” I felt there was a huge disconnect in me trying to go into my solo album because it was the age difference in the character that I played and the age I really was. And I was making music for my real age, and I couldn’t understand why people didn’t get it. And they were like “why’s this little girl singing about heartbreak and getting cheated on?” And I was like, “that’s my real life experience.” Now that I’ve been able to share my real life experience on a show like “The Real,” my music makes sense.
Q: If the past was a blank slate and you could define your future legacy as anything you wanted it to be, what would you want it to be defined by?
I would want to be known as someone who never gave up. And I think being a Latina from the projects of the Lower East Side, not having any connections in this industry, I don’t have a famous uncle, an agent cousin, I just came into this with pure talent and working my butt off. I’d want to remembered that anything is possible, I’d want to be an example that if you have a dream and have a goal in mind, you can make it happen. You set your eye on that goal, go for it, and if it doesn’t work out the first time, you try again second time, a third time, and a fourth time. At this point we’ve reinvented ourselves five or six times, but I never ever gave up. And that’s a huge message that I want to give out to the youth, to believe in yourself and never ever give up.
Q: For your new project, are there any specific collabs you want to make happen?
Ne-Yo is definitely working on the album, we’re going into the studio when I get to Atlanta. I’m excited about Ne-Yo being on the record. And there’s going to be a little bit of Latin infusion in there as well. So yeah, I’m excited.
Q: Now that you’re moving more into the music side of your career, do you think you’ll still do movies as often?
Of course! I think you do a little bit of everything if the opportunity comes, and it’s something that I love and think is great for my career, then absolutely. I’d love to continue acting, I’ve put out a movie last year for ABC Family with Jane Seymour called “Lovestruck” which was a lot of fun. Back to my musical moments, which was a lot of fun. So yeah if the opportunity comes I’d love to continue acting.
Q: This role showed off a personal side of yours, are there any other big parts about your life that you want to show off on screen?
I’d love to play more of a character that grew up the way I grew up. In the sense of growing up in the projects on the Lower East Side and really not having money. Making my own clothes, those sorts of things. I would love to play a character that reflects that because I know what that’s like to be hungry and to really want to be successful. I was so hungry and determined as a young girl, I am so much lazier than I was back then! (laughs) It sounds crazy but I look at myself now and I’m like, “I used to work so hard when I was younger, I was so determined.” Like nothing was going to stop me, I was very very focused and I’d love to play a character similar to that.
Q: Do you have any shout outs or anything else you want to put out there?
I want folks to follow me on Instagram and Twitter, I love social media. It’s how I keep in touch with my fans, I keep them updated on what I’m doing. The movie’s coming out, hopefully “The Real” will come back in 2014, and my nail polish line “Fingertip Fetish.” It’s a luxury Vegan line that I started and it’s available on my website and fingertipfetish.com. The first collection is called “Made in NYC” and all the polishes are based off of different things in New York City. There’s “Queens Rope Chain” which is gold, there’s “Metro-Metallic” which is silver like the trains, “Hail a Cab” is yellow, “Lady Liberty” is like a mint green, “BX Bomber” is Yankee blue, we have black for the Nets which called “BK We Go Hard,” “El Barrio” is red for all my Latinas, and we have “Trendy Soho” which is a hot pink. So it’s all the places in New York City, very New York themed and that’s who I am. I was made in NYC and the first collection is called “Made in NYC.”