Nicole Scherzinger a.k.a. Queen Doll of the hot burlesque all-girl band, the Pussycat Dolls, first came on to the North American scene in the girl pop band, Eden’s Crush. Little did she know that her fate was sealed when the band dismembered a short time later and an audition for the Pussycat Dolls’ lead singer came her way. Bagging the top honour, she stepped both feet into the ring and put all of her hard earned years of dance, vocal training and song writing to good use, catapulting herself and the Dolls into the world-wide arena with two super hit albums, PCD (2005) and Doll Domination (2008), and a string of consecutive top ten hits spanning the entire globe.
Her exotic looks, borne of her Filipino, Russian and Hawaiian heritage, as well as her svelte physique, dynamic voice and dominating presence, all contribute to her personal strength. In addition, Nicole’s outlook on life is indicative of her steadfast belief system borne from a strict Catholic upbringing. Like Queen Boadicea, Rani Jhansi and (in my opinion) ‘Queen’ Hilary Clinton before her, she has used her attributes to fight tooth and nail towards achieving her goals. But as is the case with every victory, what’s left behind is a long history of “blood, sweat and tears.”
How did she transform herself from a shy insecure girl to a powerful female role model? To discover the artist, the woman, the domination…
This issue is our very first Power Issue and we’re pleased to be presenting you as our Power personality cover model.
Wow! It’s an honour to be a part of this issue since it’s the Power Issue. It’s nice to be seen that way. I don’t know if that always comes through, so thank you.
You’re welcome! So tell me, when did you first realize that you wanted to be a musical artist and performer?
When I was a little girl of about four or five, I loved Whitney Houston. I always imagined being her singing “The Greatest Love Of All”. My mother was a hula dancer and they would travel around and perform this Hawaiian act. She would teach me hula dancing. I was always a really shy, awkward, lanky kid growing up, and the one thing that I would feel comfortable with was singing and imagining myself as this really grand singer. I would imagine myself as Whitney Houston. It wasn’t until I was in middle school, when I was an understudy for a Beatles’ song in a school play and the original singer never showed up that I got to perform. I’ll never forget the audience’s reaction. I felt so comfortable and at home, and the rest is history. I came from humble beginnings, so I knew I wanted to go to a youth performing arts high school because I knew that would allow me to expand this talent and gift that I knew I had. From then on, that’s what I did. Since I can remember, singing has been a part of me since I was born into this world.
What did you do in the early days to prepare yourself for the big time which is where you are today?
I could never really prepare for this as I never really knew how hard it was going to be. I don’t think anyone really knows how hard it’s going to be. I have my family to thank for their strength as they’re true warriors. I’ve never been shy of hard work and relentless determination, so everything that I’ve ever done in my life, I’ve put 150% of myself into it. Blood, sweat and tears have gone into my journey so far. I remember when I was growing up that I was too hard on myself. My mother has a lot of stories of me being a perfectionist and getting down on myself so much, but I cared so much. Everything I did, I took as an opportunity to grow and to be at my full potential. I put all of myself into it and looking back, it has been a very long road. I’ve gone through many things — whether its being in musical theatre, in plays, in a rock band, in a television show, a pop group, touring the country or touring the world. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for so many years, auditioning for movies and feeling the rejection of not being chosen. I’ve only had my eyes set on one dream in my life. God gave me that dream. That’s all I’ve ever seen. That’s all I’ve ever fought for. Nothing has gotten in the way of that, ever. Sometimes my head tries to get in the way, but that’s okay, because it just makes me want to be a better artist and better person all round.
What was that one goal, that one dream?
When I signed my yearbooks growing up, I used to say, “remember me when I’m famous.” (Laughs) I didn’t really think then, that I knew what fame meant, but I did know that people who were famous were the BEST at what they did, and I wanted to be the BEST! At least the best that I could be. I wanted to be the best singer. I wanted to be Whitney Houston.
Your name is synonymous with PCD. When people think of PCD they immediately think of you as the main player. This has caused a great deal of speculation about the value of the rest of the Dolls, especially in recent months with public outbursts from the other Dolls who are said to believe that you overshadow them. How does this make you feel?
My role within the group hasn’t changed since the day I joined, so anything else that the world or other people see could be something different within themselves. I’m the lead singer of the group and that’s the role I was brought on to do. I play a very important part in the group and I take that very seriously, I’m very proud and very honoured for the role that I have been given. I look at it as a blessing for being credited for the work that I’ve done for this music and as part of this group. That’s how I see it. Anything else that people may feel or fear is within themselves because I’m still the same person and in the same role as I was when I started five years ago. I’m trying to grow as an artist and be the best that I can for myself as an artist as well as for this group. Everyday for me is to make better music for the fans and for the people.
To be honest with you, I know that everything that I have been given is from God. If you ask me how I do it, I have no idea. Everything in my life, every audition that I’ve been rejected for, every dancing toothbrush commercial that I didn’t get, every musical theatre show, every theatrical performance that I’ve been a part of — everything has lead up to this time and has prepared me for this so that not only am I able to keep up with my work, but to keep wanting more. It is hard, you know. Listen to our song, “Be Careful What You Wish For Because You Just Might Get It”— people only see the glamour. They don’t see the work that goes into it. What they see is not, in reality, all that it’s cracked up to be. Having said that, by the grace of God, I just know that I’m made for this because I love it and I am able to enjoy it. It’s funny because every night on tour, I still wonder what I’m going to say on stage that will help me create a connection with the fans. I still care as if it was my very first performance. I think in the end, the work that you put into it as well as the heart, the passion and the time — all these years — speaks for itself.
I don’t decide on how to perform the song, the music does. When I listen to the music, I look to find what chord it strikes within me, and I strive to breath life into that chord, so that the listener can also feel the same chord and the same feeling. I feel so fortunate that I’m able to change my voice to so many different dynamics to match the song, whether it’s “Don’t Cha”, “Stuck Witchu” or “Jai Ho”. Once I connect with the music, it comes out in its truest form. I don’t know much in life, but I do know music.
You’ve been quoted as saying that you were a little intimidated to perform “Jai Ho”.
When I was asked to do “Jai Ho” I went to see the movie. Then I went into the studio and prayed to (give me insight on) what I was going to write and how I was going to turn this masterpiece into an English adaptation for the world to connect with. I also wanted to keep the integrity of the movie while making it saucy enough for the Pussycat Dolls.
“Jai Ho” was a wonderful opportunity for me. A lot of people don’t know this but I was in a rock band many years ago, and as part of that, I did a lot of chanting which gave me the insight on how to approach “Jai Ho”. I had the opportunity with “Jai Ho” to show a lot of different vocal arrangements for the lead vocal and do the backgrounds chanting as well.
I love it! I love it!! You know, it’s really interesting to grow up in a southern town in the U.S. and never see anyone with your skin colour. You feel like you don’t belong because no one else looks like you, and as a young girl, I didn’t understand this. You want to grow up and have the blue eyes, blonde hair and fair skin to fit in. To grow into the woman that I am today and to be able to represent so many different people and different cultures and the diversity that comes with that, I think is fascinating. I LOVE that I can be in any given place in the world and people believe that I’m originally from there. I’ve been told that people think I’m Pakistani, Portuguese and even Alaskan. I LOVE that. Obviously God made me like this for a reason because it allows for people, wherever I go, to relate to me and that’s really important for me being that I’m in the public eye, but also personally because it means I belong everywhere. Growing up, I didn’t know a lot of people in the music business that were like me. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I liked Paula Abdul and Mariah Carey because they had a similar skin colour as me so I could relate to them as a woman and as an aspiring artist. I felt like if they can, I can, and people need that confidence, especially when they’re struggling artists.
Yes, Rocky S. He dressed me for Condé Nast Fashion Rocks 2008 which was held in New York City. It was the first time for me and the Dolls to ever wear a sari, and we wore them on the red carpet. I always get dressed up in all these dresses when I walk the red carpet at events, but when I put this sari on that night, I’ll never forget that I felt so comfortable. I felt like, “Wow! OK! I’m exotic, I’m different and this goes with me”, my personality and who I am as a woman. Even though it was Indian, I related to it. It was such a beautiful sari that I was just so excited. I felt more comfortable in my skin than all these dresses I’m usually in. It separated me from other people but in a good way. I love the fact that you can combine the eastern with the western and make it cool and hip. I love being able to express the varied cultures of fashion this way. Every night on stage I wear bindis even though “Jai Ho” is only one song of the fifteen that we perform every night and I love it! It takes me to another place just like experimenting with music does. Fashion in this way, for me, go hand in hand.
I’ve read a lot of references about your pending solo debut album and the fact that you’ve recorded a massive 100 songs, but still aren’t happy with what you’ve bagged so far. As a self-professed perfectionist, put your fans out of their misery — when are we going to meet Nicole Scherzinger the independent artist?
Wow! (laughs) It is true that I have recorded many, many songs for my solo album. I love the songs but I don’t know if the world is ready to hear them yet because they’re only used to seeing the one side of me. So I hold on to the songs because I am a perfectionist. So if you ask me when are we going to meet Nicole Scherzinger the solo artist, my answer to you at this point is that what you get to see in the Pussycat Dolls is still me, but it’s one aspect of me. The music is my music. Honestly, I feel it’s the people’s choice when I should let them meet more aspects of who I am as an artist and as a woman.
Exactly. It’s all about timing for me. So in the meantime, all I can do is keep working on myself as an artist. When the time is right, my ultimate dream is for the world to get to know all sides of me.
There are also whispers about collaborations with Will. I. Am, A. R. Rahman again, and even Lady Gaga. Is there any truth to these rumours?
I haven’t gotten into the studio yet, but I plan on it once I’m done with this tour. These aren’t rumours. I’m professing it, I’m putting it out there. All these people are my friends, so it’s just a matter of timing and the stars aligning that we get into the studio and create music together.
It’s quite a challenge to create an independent identity as a solo artist when you’ve been so well packaged as a collective entity. How are you creating the line of separation from being the Queen Doll to being Nicole?
That’s such a good question. It’s such a huge challenge when people know me as Queen Doll of the Pussycat Dolls, how are they going to identify me as a solo artist? How do I step outside of the group when it has been so well packaged and it does have its foundation already.? For me, in the future for music, I’m not going to try and separate myself. I’m just going to try to be great and make great music. I want to be able to have my own name, but I don’t think I’m going to try so hard to separate the two. I’m going to let it just evolve on its own through the music I’m able to make and share with the world.
(Laughs) Exactly! When Beyoncé went on to do her own thing, it wasn’t so separate from Destiny’s Child. It was the same music and same identity but on steroids — it was just Beyoncé. One day, I hope to do the same thing.
Guys have got to have a great sense of humour. A man with a very good heart. A sense of faith and spirituality is very important for me because I have a very strong faith. I also like a man who’s very confident within himself. He’s got to be ambitious in life and passionate about something because I’m so passionate about what I do in my life.
I don’t know what about him that’s right for me, but I know that when we’re together, we’re very blessed in our relationship. And it fits. I don’t know how it fits, but it fits.
It’s funny that people usually pick a partner who is identical to them or the complete opposite. Which one is Lewis?
I think we’re both for each other.
I’m like a child. God shines a lot of love down, so I hope people are able to feel my love through my music and whatever I do and wherever I go in the world.
To be able to enjoy life more to the fullest. Sometimes, I get so into my work that I don’t realize that a year has passed by and I can’t remember all the amazing things that went on, even though I know they happened. If I could just hold on to those moments a little longer.
Well I know one thing many people would never change about you and that is your rock hard body.
If you knew me growing up, I didn’t even want to be seen with a bathing suit on. I’d wear a t-shirt into the pool. I was just so shy, but I did grow into a woman, and now I’m the lead of the Pussycat Dolls (laughs). It’s kind of ironic and funny. I work out very hard to maintain a healthy physique. Everyday on tour I still go to the gym and work out. I don’t believe in diets because I’ve been on too many of them. They’re like roller-coasters. People don’t realize that it’s really unhealthy for your metabolism and in the end, it really doesn’t help. You need to maintain a healthy diet to maintain a healthy and strong metabolism, and you do that by staying very active. Performing on stage is itself such a huge workout, so in order to keep up, I love running. You’ll see me either in the gym or out on the streets running a lot.
One: Food. I think it’s really important to eat between three to six meals a day, because if you ever deprive yourself of food, then you’re only going to be hungry and eat more later. You have to listen to your body in order to get into the right rhythm to eat. Don’t deprive yourself of anything. I don’t believe in depriving yourself of carbs. Have everything in moderation. If you want to have dessert, have them but don’t have them with every meal or every day, because then you really appreciate it when you do have it. Choices are important — healthier choices and smaller portions are key factors. Drink lots of water also. People don’t know really how good water is for you. I believe it balances everything out both, physically and mentally.
Two: Stay active. People use the excuse that they don’t have time, but if your health is important to you, you can find 20 minutes out of your life to exercise, run or even walk. Twenty minutes, three times a week is good. What a lot of people don’t realize is that once you get that into your system, your body craves it because it’s a natural high and a natural endorphin. I tell my mom all the time that I want her to go outside and walk for 20 minutes because of her heart. The key is to not do too much which is often what people think they need to do. What tends to happen, is that they get turned off and then they don’t do anything. Just like food in moderation, you need exercise in moderation.
Three: Takes some time out for yourself, whether it’s to pray or to meditate. A little bit of time, even if its just as you wake up or go to bed to just (pause), connect. Connecting all three of these will change your life and make it more valuable for you and everyone in your life.
Yes, but sometimes I can’t keep it together by myself. We all have these moments which is why I stay very connected to my family and surround myself with a very select group of people who are my army, my soldiers who — when I can’t be positive — help me get in the right head space and give me perspective.
What do we have to look forward to from you and the PCD in the future?
For me I’d like to get back into the studio this summer, so what you have to look forward to is more music. I might be looking at some movie scripts as well.
Be careful what you wish for because it’s a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but the rewards are worth it hands down. Early on in my journey, somebody told me that no matter what you do, just be you. It’s not easy but if it’s in your heart and you feel it’s a part of your destiny, then it will happen. Along the journey, don’t forget to enjoy it and yes, be you. Always stay true to yourself because it’s easy to get lost in this industry. It’s very important to not jeopardize who you are and to never stop growing the way that it feels right to you, no matter what anyone says to you. And don’t forget to give thanks. Finally, if you truly want it bad enough, DO NOT give up because from my perspective, only God knows how hard I’ve worked to get where I have. Even when things were at their gravest point, I never gave up on my belief in the dream and in me.
I have a song called “Happily Never After” on the Pussycat Dolls album (PCD, 2005). It’s about a woman finally recognizing her self worth. First step is to become in touch with a spirituality or faith, because I believe if you do that, it puts the energy on something greater than yourself, so that when you are able to learn and grow, you’re able to recognize that light within you. Find something that you’re passionate about and take the risk, even when you’re so afraid to do so because the alternative is that you’re not going to be able to experience the full potential of what life can really be. Take that leap of faith because if you’re able to do that, you’ll never be left wondering just how much you could have accomplished, whether it’s for you or for someone else. See it, believe it and make it happen. What have you really got to loose? We’re all special and we all have a purpose. When people look at me, they only see my outcome, they have never known my journey. I want your readers to know that I grew up (living) a very sheltered and conservative life, and I was a very insecure girl—an ugly ducking. And now, a magazine is interviewing me as the cover person for its Power Issue. It’s the last thing I ever thought anyone would interview me on and when you told me that this was your Power Issue, I was like “Wow! I can’t believe anyone would recognize me for that.” I’m so grateful to have a real interview. When you work towards achieving being the best you, even things you never thought would come your way or ways in which you never thought you would be perceived, just happen. It’s the energy you create through believing and trying. THAT’s true power!
First published in The Power Issue, May 2010, www.AnokhiMagazine.com.
Photo i: Photo By Gavin Bond
Photo ii: Photo By Matthew Rolston
Photo iii: Photo By Thomas Kloss
Photos iv and v: Photo By Meeno
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