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Song In Her Heart

By Ruchel Louis Coetzee
Posted On Aug 16, 2016
Song In Her Heart

For as far back she can remember, captivating Christina Milian, 34, was determined to express herself—openly, intimately, universally. Gifted with a vivacious voice and natural stage presence, Milian knew show business was her destiny since she was a little girl growing up in Jersey City. How was she able to rise to the top of the crowded crop?

You need only meet the bright and mighty Milian for a brief moment to see her sparkle and spunky style resonate. She began writing songs at 17, landing a contract with Def Jam a mere two years later. Now, with a plum role on the hot, hilarious John Stamos-led FOX sitcom Grandfathered, three Billboard charting albums under her bedazzled belt, a self-funded album on the loose as of October 30th, and her own reality show on E! premiering November 3rd (not to mention co-hosting this year’s E! Emmy red carpet pre-game and her own clothing line, We Are Pop Culture), Milian’s skyrocketing star isn’t about
to “dip it low.”

NEW YOU: We have been dazzled by both “Christina the actress” and “Christina the singer.” Which is more important to you?

CHRISTINA MILIAN: I honestly love both. I’m just expressing myself in two different ways. I would never choose one over the other because I just love to entertain.

NY: You have a very determined work ethic. Where did you learn that?

CM: My parents—my dad, especially. He always taught me to never rely on anybody. He always said, “You only have yourself, so work hard.” Watching him work hard inspired me. After having my daughter, it was even more natural to give myself more energy to figure out what I really love, to go for my passions, and become an entrepreneur.

NY: You have a great role on Grandfathered—which really speaks to the unique issues in modern-day family dynamics. How important is the notion of family to you?

CM: Parents and family make up a core value system for me. Having a mom and a dad who you know are always imprinted on your life makes a huge difference, from education to relationships to the decisions you make.

NY: Do you draw anything from your own personal life for your role as the mother of baby Edie on the show?

CM: Yes, my daughter’s dad and I have a friendship that is way beyond the relationship we had. Now, we get along as friends and know each other that way. I think that relation of being a mom is what got me the most on the show as well as co-parenting and being friends with the other parent.

NY: What did you learn from your own grandfather?

CM: Both my grandads came from Cuba to America to make a better life for their kids. That gives me a great example as a parent now to take chances. Not only for myself but for my daughter.

NY: How is your other show, Christina Milian Turned Up, on E! doing?

CM: Great! I’m going to have two shows airing at the same time on Tuesdays, and on two different networks, which is pretty cool.

NY: Turned Up can get pretty personal. What have you learned doing a reality show like this, with your family and friends in tow?

CM: Getting to know my family and to know why I am the person that I am is an incredible feeling. It can be scary, sharing and opening up, but I think we are all human and all vulnerable.

NY: Are you afraid of anything?

CM: I used to be afraid of everything. Running out of money, not being good at something, being nervous. When I started to try things that I was scared of, like Dancing with the Stars, I found it was never as bad as I thought. The trials and tribulations in my personal life are enough for me to say, “Okay, get over your fears and just go for it. There is nothing stopping you.”

NY: You launched a five-song EP in October that you self-funded. How challenging was that?

CM: The music wasn’t a challenge. It was more about taking a chance on funding myself [and] making sure that I budget everything correctly. Each song includes a music video. One song is called Do It with Lil’ Wayne and another one is called Like Me with Snoop Dogg. People will get to follow my journey along while watching my TV show Christina Milian Turned Up. It’s a labor of love and I really get to express myself creatively with this project.

NY: What was it like to work with Snoop Dogg?

CM: Snoop is awesome. He’s someone I met somewhere along the line, and he has always been very supportive of my clothing line [We Are Pop Culture]. I just called him and said, “I have this song I would love for you to get on.” He literally got on it that night. Somebody like him—legendary who I grew up listening to—sets a great example of staying humble and cool. It’s not all about his money, but just being there for other people and trying new things.

NY: You worked with your ex, Lil’ Wayne, quite a bit. What was that like?

CM: He taught me, music-wise, that there are no limits to the amount of words you can have on a record. He just goes in the booth and speaks off the top of his head. Watching him shows me there’s no limit to how you say things or what you want to say. You just have to go for it because you can always change it later.

NY: As a woman who won’t take no for answer, where do you dig for your determination?

CM: My dad always taught me that negative words like “no” and “can’t” should not be in my vocabulary. We have been blessed with opportunity. It’s your job to recognize it and make the most out of what you have. And it’s important to stay in touch with the people who help make you along the way. They are your biggest promoters. It’s always important to stay real.