Christina Milian: One in a MilianLEFAIR
Photographer Ben Cope @ben_cope
Creative Director Tracy Kahn @tracykahn
Wardrobe Stylist Eric Archibald @ericarchibaldstylist
Hair Artist Michael Solis @michaelsolishair
Makeup Artists Lavonne @lavonnebeauty and David Rodriguez @drodbeauty
Producer Bryan Patrick Franklin @bpfrank with GRID @gridagency @gridproductions
Videographer Ben Shani @benshaniproductions
Humming ever so softly and unintelligibly, singer and actress, Christina Milian, sat in her glam chair getting ready for our summer issue’s cover shoot. I took this murmur of a private acapella performance as a sign that it probably sounds like a philharmonic orchestra when Christinasneezes. Everything she emits — her laughter, energy, vocal sounds, all have a distinct radiant beauty.
Currently, Christina has a full plate as a panelist on Fox’s new show, Super Humans, mother to Violet Milian, and DJ. “I don’t know what I’m humming,” she admits. “A catchy hook and melody — that’s what makes a hit song, right? The lyrics have to be catchy but half the time you can hardly remember the lyrics so melody is number one.” Our cover star knows a thing or two about hits — with charted top forty songs, TV shows, major motion pictures, and melodies addictive, Christina Milian is also a super human.
MR: I was reading on Wiki that during your childhood, your parents discovered that you had an affinity for performing and show business. So they basically said, “Okay, let’s move to Los Angeles!” and you all packed up and left Maryland? Is this an accurate depiction?
CM: Both of my parents were actually planning our move to Los Angeles a year in advance. You can’t trust anything Wikipedia says! I have a middle name on Wikipedia. Christina Marie? Where did that come from? I don’t have a middle name! We were supposed to move in 1994 but then there was the huge earthquake two weeks prior to us moving so we didn’t end up going.
It was still really scary when we did end up moving, not knowing if another earthquake would strike. We drove across the country — three days from Maryland to Los Angeles. We were with my dad at the time but then he wound up going back home.
MR: You were mostly raised by your mom then? Because your parents split after you moved, right?
CM: Well, I was already thirteen by the time they divorced so most of the “raising” was done by both my parents in Maryland. But after that, I was a teenager living here in LA and I became kind of like a co-parent with my mom to my sisters. We’re all super close. We have our arguments about typical family stuff but we all get along.
MR: Your mom must have believed in you a lot…
CM: My mom said she recognized something in me and she knew I wanted to be in the business. I grew up in the era of Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, and MTV. Growing up watching music videos, I was very attracted to the idea of being on TV. I wanted to sing and act and perform in front of a lot of people.
That became my goal for what I wanted to do. I wanted to sing and act for sure. I took piano lessons and vocal lessons. I used to be in theater. I went on a whole musical theater tour, performing in plays all over when I was a kid. I got to sing and act. As far as professions go, itwas a lot easier to get into acting. How do you even get a record deal and get discovered? As you grow up, you come to find that it’s a lot of networking.
MR: What kind of adversity did you experience when you broke into entertainment?
CM: From either being a woman or a woman of color, there areso many different issues. As a woman, I’ve seen so many men billionaires hustle people right before my eyes. I don’t sit here and cry about it. It sucks that sometimes people waste your time. That’s a pain in the butt. When I first got into entertainment, my name, Christine Flores, didn’t work because I wasn’t African American enough and I wasn’t Latino enough to even get an audition.
So when I changed it to Milian, it changed over night. I was likethe new girl in town. I was booking everything. You just have to know how to work with what you’ve got. Luckily, everyone these days is being very vocal in trying to break down these walls, create opportunities, and bring more equality. We are in a beautiful time. Some of the things I’ve done and decisions I’ve made, people are and will benefit from, just like people have paved a way for me. Of course it’s a process but were getting there.
MR: How did you break into the music scene?
CM: The music really came into place when I was living in an apartment complex where there were a lot of other musicians. It was there that I met Rodney Jerkins. He was 18 years old. It was before he produced albums for Whitney Houston and Brandi. People used to come up to me and say, “Hey are you in a girl group? They would kind of ‘discover me.’ Technically he was kind of the first big producer who introduced me into being in a music studio.
I would make demos for him. Eventually it was taking too long. I was 17 and I enrolled in a music business class. My mom had been reading books and I found this class at Los Angeles Valley College. It’s one thing to be a singer, but you don’t want to get screwed, so know your shit. In that class, I met someone who worked for a record label, David Foster. Eventually I wound up signing with Def Jam.
MR: What parenting lessons has your mom taught you? Do you feel like your relationship with Violet resembles your relationship with your mother at all?
CM: My mom and I are really close and we have always been close. She still works with me as a manager. Violet and I are also tight so our closeness resembles the relationship I have with my mom. When I found out I was having a girl, I was like, “Oh my gosh, I don’t know what I’m getting myself into.” The world is so crazy and you almost want to overprotect them.
In a mother-daughter relationship, you have to be prepared for the stages puberty, make her privy to how guys are and what guys will try to do to, as my dad would say, “get in your pants.” I’ve focused on Violet first before letting anyone into my life and that’s been important. I think with my parents’ help, I have made some pretty good decisions in my life.
MR: How would you feel if Violet wanted to be in show business?
CM: If she really wanted it, of course I would have her back and it would be great because it really is a networking thing. I would help her avoid all the challenges and I would explain to her that if she didn’t get a job, its nothing against her. There are a lot of people who want it and if you want, you have to go for it because someone wants it more than you do. You have to give it your all.
MR: Tell me about your clothing line.
CM: We Are Pop Culture Clothing started two and a half years ago with just t-shirts and then we expanded to sporty athleisure, which is my general style. So that is the direction we went. It takes a lot of work to build a clothing brand. I’ve sort of put it on pause. I want to find new designers and investors.
It’s all about marketing.It’s more than just making clothes. I’m looking to merge with some partners to take it to the next level. I want to find a really solid partnership but it’s fun. I have fun designing and being the creative director. Giving other people opportunities and jobs in modeling and designing is very rewarding.
MR: You’ve been in and out of relationships but you never seem bitter towards anyone—how do you manage to remain friends or amicable with exes?
CM: Stay optimistic. Things don’t work out for a reason. We want things our way, and we want things to last forever. But once you realize life isn’t like that, things are a lot better.
MR: What’s the secret to getting over heartbreak?
CM: I get over it pretty well. You have to let yourself go through it for the first couple of days. Then you have to vent to your friends. When you talk to your friends, you realize you just have to hear it out loud.
You have to tell yourself it’s okay to cry. Just get it out of the way. I don’t know that’s just how I am. Also, working out helps. You look good and your mind is much more clear. Use all of that energy to push yourself to look really hot.
MR: Have you grown a lot through your relationships?
CM: Absolutely. Every single relationship has been a new chapter and a new lesson for me. The biggest thing you learn from relationships is that everyone has a different story. You learn to accept people for what makes them different. You learn what you want in a man or a woman. I find myself building a list. I started to know the things I have to look out.
Like, this is a red flag or this might be good for today but not for tomorrow. Sometimes someone seems promising and you might be looking for a relationship but you realize everything you need is already there. I’m single now and liking it. I am focusing on my daughter and me. Everything will fall in place. Libras like to be partnered but Libras also have a lot of friends.
MR: So, what’s on your list for qualities in a man?
CM: I want someone fun and spontaneous. I love spontaneity. He has to be confident enough to understand my career. It’s a big deal because I work a lot and understanding my schedule isn’t easy for a lot of people. There are plenty of men who are excited by what I do but then when they are in the relationship, they can’t handle how busy I am.
He has to be confident enough to support me. Competition can be cute in a relationship when you are competing to be better as individuals, and inspiring each other, but not competing against each other isn’t any fun. I want a family guy. I am close to my family so I want to get to know someone else’s family.
MR: So, what are you working on right now?
CM: For the past few months, I’ve been working on DJing. I’m also filming something for MTV but I’m not allowed to announce yet. I’m hosting a show on MTV that will start airing in August. And of course, I have Super Human on Fox.
That one is great. It’s real and it’s good to be in the homes of the people of America. There are some extraordinary people in the world and it feels good to highlight them. I’m having a great old time sitting on the panel. I’m working with really fun people so it’s not really a hard job for me.
MR: Who are some artists you’d like to collaborate with but haven’t had the chance to?
CM: I’d love to write for more people. When it comes to writing, it would be a dream come true if I ever wrote a song for Beyoncé. I love listening to her sing and watching her perform. That is a fantasy — to see someone like her sing your song. I haven’t gotten to work with her yet but the degrees of separation are very small.
MR: What do you attribute your success to?
CM: It’s definitely drive and just staying hungry and passionate. I also attribute it to keeping good relationships and staying professional. Your name is all of you’ve got. That sounds like something my mom would say! Success comes from treating people how you want to be treated, following your passion, following your heart, and not being afraid of the word no.