With a new album due this spring, she stars in Army Wives.
More than a decade since her fast rise to fame with her smash "Foolish" and self-titled Grammy-winning debut album, Ashanti, 32, is readying her fifth studio album, Braveheart, just as her acting career is heating up. The Long Island, New York, native has joined the cast of the long-running Lifetime Sunday night series Army Wives, starting with the March 17th episode. In a recent conversation, she discussed the role, her music plans and a to-do list that includes skydiving and having kids.
How did you come to join the cast of Army Wives?
I was recording my album and hadn't gone on an audition in a while, but I had three that week. I had a call-back and a screen test and once I got it, I made it a priority. I was a fan. I would watch reruns with my mother when I came home from the recording studio. She was an army brat and identifies with the show.
Your character is introduced as a mother of three kids whose husband is deployed in Afghanistan. What else will we learn about her?
She's sassy, she's classy, she has spunk, she's educated, she says what she means and she adores her kids, two boys and a girl. Her youngest son has cystic fibrosis, so she deals with a lot. She's a very strong woman. But if she has a problem, she might go to the other wives. They lean on each other.
You don't have children, so how do you like playing a mom of three?
Love it! They are hilarious! I love kids. I used to work in a daycare center and I have a godson and little cousins. Kids dig me. I love them and they love me back. These kids are awesome, super talented. It does make me want to have kids, get married and all that good stuff, but way later on, when the time is right.
You have a new album, Braveheart, due this spring. How are you juggling acting and recording?
On the weekends, I'm in the studio and I write between scenes on set. It gets a little hard sometimes. I love creating music but I have to focus and know my lines. So it's definitely a balance.
You've released the track "That's What We Do" with R. Kelly. What's next?
We also released "The Woman You Love" and will put out more. Today, it's about putting out as much musical content as you can and using social media to promote it. We'll definitely put out another single, maybe two, before the album. I'm going to have my music in some episodes of Army Wives. Once the series is over, we'll plan a tour.
Do music and acting fulfill you differently?
Yes. I'm so thankful to be able to write a song that touches another person, be able to connect with people through music and inspire them to keep going and follow their hearts and their dreams. It's great to play different characters and use your talent to make them come to life. I love both. I'm pretty blessed. I get paid for things I love!
What goals do you set for yourself?
I want to push my career to the limit, try different things and create partnerships. I think it's really important to give back, which is why I work with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to inspire young women especially to accomplish their goals. Times are tough all around, and even the music, film and television businesses have suffered. I feel blessed to still be here and still be the same me.
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(Photo: Demis Maryannakis, PacificCoastNews.com)