Fame has been a rocky ride for Adrienne Bailon. After being discovered by Ricky Martin, the Jersey girl with Puerto Rican roots got an early dose of stardom as a teenager by fronting girl groups 3LW and The Cheetah Girls. But the transition from Disney darling to full-grown star has been marked with false starts and negative press. Now, at the cusp of 30 and with nude photo scandals, wardrobe malfunctions and public breakups behind her, Bailon seems to finally be hitting her stride.
The host of the upcoming talk show The Real kept it just that when we asked her about everything from career setbacks, her most humiliating moment and what really went down between her and Rob Kardashian.
It was great to see you on the red carpet co-hosting the Style Stage at the BET Awards. But I think people were holding their breath when they saw your dress. Were you worried about another wardrobe malfunction?
Not this time! It was taped on perfectly, so there was no way that there would be any kind of malfunction. I had undergarments on, I also had nipple covers and everything, so even if the dress came off you wouldn’t have seen anything. I was strapped in, locked in, crazy glued!
Tell us something about The Real. What makes this talk show unique?
I don’t think there’s anything else like it on television in the sense that we represent America. We’re multicultural and we keep it real. I am the biggest work in progress on that stage. I'm turning 30, which for any woman is a big change in life and especially me coming from Disney and everyone knowing me when I was super young.
How do you feel about the big birthday?
I am excited about it because everyone tells me that when you turn thirty you stop caring about what people think [Laughs]. I am not so excited about it because I am not where I thought I would be, you know? I’m not married, I don’t have children and [I'm] still trying to figure out things in my career. Do I want to continue with music? Do I want to leave New York City where all my family is? So it's hard.
You've had a lot of negative things written about you in the press. What has been the most hurtful?
I think the most hurtful thing… I mean, I don’t regret breakups because I didn’t do anything wrong, so I don’t feel bad about that at all. You live and you learn. And, I think people really saw me honestly on the reality show, so I don’t regret any of that. But I do regret my wardrobe malfunction. That probably hurt me the most, because it was a really trashy thing to do and anyone thinking that was intentional … that really hurts.
What did you learn from that experience?
Wear panties! For real, if you wanted to show your private parts, you should be paid six digits from Playboy with airbrushing.
Speaking of regrets, your relationship with Rob Kardashian went south in a very public way. Did you know at the time how big of a storyline the breakup was going to be on his reality show?
I had no idea it was going to be on the show at all. I was asked not to speak about it at all by his family. I was fine with that because I thought this was something private and personal and we were going to keep it that way. I later found out I wasn’t supposed to talk about it because it was on the upcoming season.
Has that made you more guarded in your subsequent relationships?
I would be a liar if I said that I wasn’t keeping my current relationship more private because of what I experienced with Rob.
OK, now that you've brought it up, you gotta tell us something about your secret boyfriend.
[Laughs] We’ve been together for four years. When I was younger, I wouldn’t have been able to keep a secret, but now that I'm older, it’s not important to me to get other people’s opinions on it. I don’t want to put my partner out there for people to talk about.
You achieved a lot at a very young age. Does any part of you worry that you peaked too early?
I achieved so much more than I ever could have expected being a Latina from the projects of the Lower East Side. I never thought I’d have my own Barbie doll, my own clothing line at Sears, games — these are things I have saved for my children so I can be like, "See, look! I made it!" But at the same time, it’s kind of sad. People don’t look and say "Wow, she worked so hard and did so much." They say, "Well, what the hell is she doing now?" I think that a lot of us go through that and we don’t know what the next step is. That’s why having this opportunity is very exciting for me.
(Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for BET)