*Fantasia Barrino is truly an “American Idol.” Since taking the title six years ago on the popular talent show, she’s become a Grammy-nominated singer, a television movie success, a published subject, a Broadway star, and a reality favorite.
Most often known simply as Fantasia, she has a new album on the way, is starring in her own reality series, “Fantasia For Real” on VH1, and is currently on her second tour as Celie in the Broadway musical production of ‘The Color Purple,’ now playing in Los Angeles.
“We did DC’s Kennedy Center, then Chicago, and then my hometown of Greensboro, NC, which was crazy,” she said of her second “The Color Purple” tour. “Then we went to Atlanta at the Fox Theater. Then I took four months off to do my album and then I took four months off to do the VH1 show. Now I’m going back for three weeks and that will be it for me; it will be signed, sealed, and delivered.”
Though there is talk that the musical’s producer Oprah Winfrey will make the production into a film, Fantasia said that unless the movie (of the musical of the movie of the book) goes through, her LA appearances will most likely be her last days as Miss Celie.
“I don’t know if I really enjoyed myself the first year when I was doing it,” she said of the experience. “It was a lot of pressure. There was a lot on me; family wise, dealing with Celie, dealing with management, lawyers, accountants. There was a lot in my world at that time.”
“Now I can go on the stage without worrying about anything on my end,” she continued. “It’s just been a great ride for me. I’ve even learned about this woman that I didn’t know and I played her for a year. She’s become a best friend. She’s taught me a lot. When I leave that stage, I’m a much stronger woman.”
About being a stronger woman, Fantasia is also using entertainment to share her strength with others. She told EUR’s Lee Bailey that her VH1 reality show “Fantasia For Real,” is an opportunity for her to be honest and revealing about some to the trials she goes through that have made her stronger.
“People got to hear all the negative stuff about Fantasia for a while in ’08,” she said of her initial motivation to do the show. “Some was true. Some was false. I said ‘Let them hear the story from my mouth. Let them hear the truth, let them hear what’s false, and let them watch me as I reveal everything and show them a lot of things they didn’t know.”
Fantasia said that she really wants people to know that at 25 years of age, she takes care of her entire family.
“A lot of the things that I’ve been through have been because I’ve been burdened with trying to make so many people happy and forgetting about Fantasia and what makes me happy,” she said. “I just wanted people to see all that I go through as a 25 year-old mother, sister, a daughter, a best friend. I have a lot of responsibilities and I just wanted America to see that.”
One thing the show has certainly revealed is that one of Fantasia’s biggest “burdens” is her brother Teeny.
“Everybody in the family sings; me, by brothers Ricco and Teeny, my mom and my dad. When I won the idol, Ricco came on the road with me. We went to the ‘Idol’ together and unfortunately he didn’t get to try out because he left his ID. My brother Rico He ended up going on the road with me after I won. Teeny feels like he’s been left out.”
Fantasia describes her older brother Ricco, an up-and-coming solo act himself, as much more quiet and humble than her brother Teeny.
“The difference with Teeny is he, my father, and I are so much alike that we bump heads a lot. I couldn’t take him on the road with me,” she said. “So he feels as though he’s left out or that we think he’s not good enough. He’s created his own little world and he sits in it; he lives in it.”
“And what you see on the television is not a game; it’s not fake. That is who he is. I wanted him to finally see himself. So you have to keep watching to see how it pans out.”
Fantasia said that he show has done quite well right out of the gate, but that she hopes to measure its success on how her audience relates.
“At the end of the day we’re all on this earth and we go through things. Everybody does. Nobody’s perfect,” she said. “Celebrities can be touchable and reachable and people can say, ‘I’m going through that same thing.’ Just because we’re celebrities and we’re blessed to do our music and travel the world doesn’t make us different from anyone else. I want people to relate. I just try to use my life as a testimony.”