At first, R&B singer Monica wanted no part of reality television.
“I assumed [producers] would not want a reality show about my life as it really is, because my life is drama-free now,” said the Grammy Award-winning artist. “If they wanted drama, they would have had to have caught me 10 years ago.”
The singer, whose full name is Monica Denise Arnold, has overcome some terrible experiences.
She witnessed the suicide of a despondent boyfriend and was involved with rapper C-Murder (whose real name is Corey Miller and who is the brother of rapper Master P) when he was arrested for the shooting death of a fan.
But those times are now behind the mother of two young sons. She’s happily settled in a committed relationship with her children’s father, rapper Rocko, and currently starring in the BET show “Monica: Still Standing.” A new album is set to be released in the new year.
Video: Monica’s still standing
While she’s had success with singles like “Don’t Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days),” “Angel of Mine” and her duet, “The Boy Is Mine,” with singer Brandy, the 29-year-old is looking to break through to superstar status.
“I think this is her moment,” said her cousin and longtime manager, Melinda Dancil. “People have seen ‘the artist Monica,’ but they have never really seen ‘the person Monica,’ and the person Monica is really what creates her engaging personality.”
The singer is quick to point out that “I’m not a victim, I’m a victor,” and said she wants her legacy to extend beyond just her reputation as a singer, songwriter and occasional actress.
She spoke to CNN about her career, why you won’t see her in a catfight with another female singer and what makes her emotional.
CNN: What do you hope fans take away from your new reality show?
Monica: My main objective is to show some form of strength.
I think people experience a lot, especially in this day and age, and especially young people, and people don’t normally speak directly to them.
I think they will take the idea of strength, the idea of faith and the idea of family away from it. The latter two are things that people don’t like to talk a lot about or deal a lot with, in my experience.
CNN: At what point are you in your career?
Monica: I’m at the point in my career where it’s time for me to start defining who I am as an artist.
I would love for people to look at me as a great singer, but also know exactly who I am, the way that we have loved and respected people like Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle having gone through the different stages of their lives with them. That’s the type of history I want to have.
This is the defining moment where I separate myself from others by whatever it is I do and the way that I do it.