Actress, singer, entrepreneur and reality TV star, Christina Milian first tore up the charts in the early 2000s with songs like like “AM to PM” and “Dip it Low”. But in 2016, she wears many hats.
Today, the “mom” hat takes precedence. She’ll have to drop off her daughter Violet’s homework at school because they forgot it at home, she says, over the phone from L.A. It’s a gorgeous March day and Milian’s enjoying this brief home stint between rehearsing and shooting in Toronto for Kenny Ortega’s remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, in which she plays Magenta, a domestic. Ortega threw his net wide for his cast, finding performers from Britain, the U.S. and Canada.
“I guess they couldn’t find a Magenta,” says Milian. “The dancers suggested to him that he should check me out. From there, I got a phone call asking if I would even be interested – I’ve always been a fan of Rocky Horror. After that, it was just talking about getting into this character, but [Ortega] was just really free about it and creative, and I got to come right on-board and start working on it directly. It’s been fun learning my character along the way because I was really hopping from one project to the next.”
In fact, just days before flying to Toronto, she wrapped up the first season of Fox’s Grandfathered – a John Stamos sitcom in which she plays the mother of the grand-daughter Stamos just learned he had. At least that show – which she calls “super sweet and quirky” – films in Los Angeles.
So does her reality show – Christina Milian Turned Up – which, co-starring her mother and two sisters, allows for some unlikely quality family time. “It’s actually cool because it forces us to spend more time together,” says Milian. “We’re a really tight family. As women, we endure a lot and are able to overcome a lot. I think there’s that understanding we can learn through each other or be there for each other and no matter what, we care about each other.”
But Milian’s first and enduring love is music. And an era that places less emphasis on complete albums, and allows for artists to express themselves through EPs and singles at their leisure, is perfect for a renaissance woman’s schedule. Her latest EP, 4U, was released in December, and features Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg.
“I love putting out music and it really doesn’t have to be a giant body of work. There are no rules these days,” she says. “Like, let’s express ourselves! Let’s get creative! There are too many creative people in the world. If you’re creative, you don’t want to be bored. You will do anything to give out your creative flow and eventually, if you believe it, it will become something.”
Milian more than practices what she preaches. A couple of things she believes in? Her women’s and kids’ clothing line, We Are Pop Culture, which has grown from t-shirts to full collections and a store on Melrose (“Now we’re hiring designers, I’m hiring marketing people, it’s more than three people running the company,” she says); and a wine company, Viva Diva Wines, which she bought a year and a half ago (“I’m rebranding it and I’m going to give it a whole new look and let it emulate my lifestyle a lot more.”).
But aside from a glass of Viva Diva’s Moscato, which Milian says is doing particularly well, how does one stay sane while multi-tasking at such a high level?
“Actually, it’s a lot of fun. It’s not stressful,” she says, with breezy (and convincing) conviction.
“The only thing that I stress out about is, how am I going to make sure that I balance out my time for motherhood? How am I going to make this work? Because my daughter – that time means everything to her and to us. She’s all I got. We could work really hard but we could watch time fly, you know? Tomorrow’s not promised.”
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Garland Jeffreys’ album, 14 Steps to Harlem, grew out of a soulful period of retrospection late in the artist’s life and career. As a veteran songwriter, Jeffreys started writing provocative, ahead-of-its- time, genre-bending songs in the early 1970s, with lyrics focused on everything from relationships to racial diversity to political turmoil. Now in his seventies, the New York musician is looking back on his life with an album that takes on bold topics and includes a title track inspired by his turbulent relationship with his father. Jefferys spoke with Georgie about his latest release, his relationship with Lou Reed and his somewhat unconventional approach to songwriting. Georgie—14 Steps to Harlem is a great album. Garland Jeffreys—Thank you. I’m very proud of the record. I took some chances in recording it but had confidence that it could be something special. You don’t know a record is good or bad until it’s done – then you know. I worked on the album with my co-producer, James Maddock, who’s a great artist in his own right. G—The title track, “14 Steps to Harlem”, stood out to me. I read that it was written with your father in mind. Did the experience of writing about your dad