Brandy Talks 'Dancing With the Stars,' Dating and a New Season of 'Brandy & Ray J'
by Kim Potts, posted Dec 3rd 2010 5:30PM
You don't have to dig too far into 'Dancing With the Stars' fans' comments on blogs to gauge that most were -- and still are -- pretty upset that R&B pop diva Brandy Norwood and her 'DWTS' partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy finished in fourth place in the just-concluded 11th season, especially since many fans were looking at the duo as potential champs.
Brandy herself has a complete different take on the competition, however.
The single mom told TV Squad that the grueling training schedule for 'DWTS,' and how far she got on the show, gave her back the confidence she had lost after she stepped out of the spotlight in the late '90s. And she hopes that rediscovered confidence will serve her well now that she's about to begin recording the CD that will serve as her official musical comeback.
With the second season of her VH1 reality show 'Brandy & Ray J: A Family Business' set to debut on Dec. 5 (11PM ET), Brandy talked to TV Squad about what's ahead for the Norwood family on season 2 (two words: blind date), about her new music plans and, yes, about what she views as nothing but a positive experience on 'Dancing With the Stars.'
Hey, Brandy! 'Dancing With the Stars' just wrapped and now you're jumping right into your VH1 reality show. It's safe to assume you're comfortable with the genre ... why?
(Laughing) Yes, it's great. Reality is so much fun, because you just get to be yourself.
It's such a physical challenge to compete on 'DWTS.' Having made it through it and making it as far as you did, do you feel like you can do anything now?
Yes, absolutely. I feel like I want to try to do everything I can, because dancing was always something I was uncomfortable doing ... it was a fear. It was a huge fear to do 'Dancing with the Stars.' And to actually do it and to go far and to really trust my partner and trust the process, it's prepared me for everything else that I want to do in my life.
Fans were so angry when you were voted off, saying it wasn't fair, that the wrong contestant was being sent home, etc. Now that a couple of weeks have passed, what's your perspective on the whole experience?
Well, I'm definitely blessed to be a part of the experience, and it's one of the hardest things I've ever done. But one of the most rewarding, too, because like I said, what I gained and what I realized ... I really thought my confidence was gone. And to find that again and to tap into that, and to just be able to perform through the nerves and perform through the fear, with people watching, and judges judging you, and the other contenders for the trophy are watching you as well, and then you get out there and then you really do it ... it's just like, 'Wow!'
After performing on 'Dancing With the Stars,' I feel like I could perform anywhere. Like, now I want to go do Broadway. It has prepared me for that. Hopefully, it, my confidence, will stick around, so I'm just working hard to maintain a positive outlook on what I have to do.
Is that something that you would really be interested in doing, a Broadway musical?
Absolutely. Broadway is definitely something that I want to do and will do.
And what about other TV shows? Your name was among those mentioned when 'American Idol' producers were looking for new judges. Was that something that you had talked to them about or that you considered doing?
No, I (didn't talk to them), but trust me, that's one of my favorite shows on television, and I would have loved to be a part of that. But I don't think that that was a part of my destiny, because I want to be the one on stage at this point. I've been off stage for so long, so I want to be the one on stage, and I want to sing, and I want to perform and connect with my fans.
What made you first decide to do the show for VH1?
Well, my brother had this grand idea for us to show what it was like to be a family and a family that is trying to make it in the music business. So I thought it was an interesting concept, and since it was my brother and my mom and my dad, I felt like, "Hey, it can't be that bad." So I signed on.
Any regrets so far about putting your personal and professional lives out there?
Not at all! I like that people get a chance to relate to us as a whole, and they get to see the family dynamic. And I think that's great for television, that people have the chance to relate to you. And maybe they tune in and work out a problem ... maybe (they're) going through (something in their) family that we're going through in ours. So, no, I don't have any regrets at all, though, of course, you have moments where you say, "Dang, I wish I didn't say that!" or "I wish I didn't show that."
Do you feel like the show has given people the chance to know you and your family in a way that maybe they didn't before? I'm thinking specifically of the way your mom, who's also your manager, comes across on the show, which is a lot different than the ideas we have about some other celeb "momagers."
Absolutely. I mean, (my mom) means business. Right? She comes from a business background, and she knows exactly what she's talking about. She knows what she's doing. But yes, she puts the family first. And, you know, (viewers) also get a chance to see how hard it is to have your mom as your manager and how things can sometimes get personal and emotional when it should be only about business. And that it's kind of hard for the child adult being the client as well. So it's an interesting dynamic, and I think people have responded well to that.
And I like that they saw me being an emotional wreck as well (laughing), because I'm very sensitive, and I'm very emotional, and I got a chance to open up. Whereas people maybe felt like they didn't know who I was as a person, they now can connect to who I am and understand why I sing the way I do. Or why I do some of the things that I do and the choices that I make. It comes from a certain place, and they got a chance to see what that place was, and where it all came from.
What will we see happening for you in the new season? It looks like things get pretty dramatic between you and Ray ...
It's definitely dramatic, but this season I am opening up to love, which is something that I haven't really been open to in the last couple of years of my life. It's been a battle with love for me. So I'm opening up in that regard, as well as going into doing the new album. And, there's a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff with 'Dancing With the Stars.'
And then you also get to see Ray J promote his new (CD), and my mom and dad are there, but not being so controlling with our careers ... (Ray J and I) are pretty much stepping up to the plate and taking charge. They're still there. They still have their opinions, just not as much as (they did) in the first season.
In the season 2 trailer, there's a scene of you going on a blind date ... how'd that work out?
It's the strangest blind date you ever want to see! (Laughing) It's hilarious. But I'm so glad that I went, because I didn't want to do it at first. It was just ... I've never done that before. But I was like, "Oh, what the heck, I'm not doing anything tonight, so I'll go."
And where do things stand now? Is there a guy in your life now?
No, there isn't a guy in my life right now. I don't understand it ... Maybe I'm not ready or something like that. But I'm trying to get myself together, and I read books on love all the time. All I watch is romantic comedies and stuff like that, just to get an idea of who I'm supposed to be in the relationship. So I feel like I'm ready, but I guess God or the universe is like "you need a little more time."
And where are you with your new album?
I'm just starting it, and it's so exciting, because I feel like I'm getting back to my roots, which is R&B, and I just ... I can't wait to just finalize everything with my deal and really go in the studio and just let the mic have it (laughing).
Have you written songs for the CD, or do you know what you want to write about?
Absolutely. Of course, you know, you want to sing about love, but in this season of 'Family Business,' you see the approach that I'm taking with it, because I feel like there were songs that I sang in the past that I had never experienced. And after I sang the song, then I experienced what I was singing about. So what I want to experience in my life now is what I want to sing about on this new album.
It'll be great to have another great R&B voice back on the scene. Do you feel like this is a comeback for you?
Well, I definitely feel like this is me coming back into my own and with the ... it feels like a rebirth for me, because when I did 'Dancing With the Stars,' I was kind of lost. I felt like I had kind of lost a sense of my confidence in my strength and my power, and I felt afraid a lot. And doing 'Dancing With the Stars,' it reawakened that confidence and that power and that courage that I've always had.
So from that show, just taking everything that I earned and I gained from that, I can put that into my music and really make the best album I can possibly make and really go out and show the world that I'm here to inspire, and that I want to be an influence in people's lives with my music. Losing a sense of that has been a battle for me, and to gain it back is just, it still is amazing.
You've been in the entertainment industry, been famous, for more than half of your life now. What's the one thing you know now that you wish you had known back in your teens, when you were releasing your first CD and starting 'Moesha'?
To develop a sense of self so you won't get attached to your identity as a famous person. And that was difficult for me, because when I was 15, I didn't really know who I was. I only knew who people thought I was, everybody that saw me ... that's what I thought of me. I didn't really have a sense of who I really was as a person. And thank God I didn't travel down a really, really rough road in terms of just getting into things that I had no business getting into. Thank God I didn't have to go through that.
But I did go through a lot with my self-esteem, and so if I knew that being a person first was what mattered the most, it would have done me a lot of good. I mean, you just don't know who you are at 15. You're just discovering who you are. But I know who I am now. And I feel like any success that comes to me (now), I will know how to appreciate it more, and I'll know how to handle it better.
Does your daughter, Sy'rai, have showbiz aspirations?
Yes, she does. She has the bug.
And how do you feel about that?
I'm going to continue to support her in her normal life right now. She's going to school and not being on TV and just becoming a person first, you know? Let's get your person intact, and then we'll talk about being a star (laughing).
She's getting to see you do all this fun stuff, and it's making an impression, though. no?
Yes, absolutely. She's very proud of me. She was at 'Dancing With the Stars' every Monday. She didn't miss a performance, and before I signed on to do it, I told her that I was thinking about doing the show. She said, 'Mama, I don't think you should do it. You can't dance.' (Laughing) And I said, 'I'm going to prove you wrong!' And so she was happy that I did it, and it really taught her that whatever you're afraid of, if you face it, you'll be fine.