Grammy award-winning songstress Ashanti is responsible for some of the greatest hits of the early 2000s. And for two decades, she has remained a prominent figure in the entertainment industry. The 42-year-old singer has released six albums, toured the world, and made music history in the process (she's the first female artist to have three singles simultaneously land in the top 10 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100).
However, Ashanti's talents extend far beyond the stage and recording booth. Over the last 20 years, the New York native has also been developing her acting skills. She's worked on projects including the cult-favorite teen rom-com John Tucker Must Die, the family-friendly The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, and teen sports drama Coach Carter. Most recently, she landed a role in VH1's A New Diva's Christmas Carol alongside Vivica A. Fox, Eva Marcille, and Robin Givens. In the Idris Elba-produced film, Ashanti plays Aphrodite, a mean-spirited singer who goes through a journey to change her attitude with the help of three ghosts from Christmas' past, present, and future. Ahead, Ashanti fills us in on the new film, her beauty and style evolution, and her self-care routine.
How are you doing today? How's your mental health?
I'm great. I'm a little bit sleepy, but I'm here. My mental health is amazing. I'm in a state of just being super grateful. I'm so blessed, and my heart is full.
What do you love most about your newest film, A New Diva's Christmas?
It's such a sweet holiday movie and has an amazing message. Many people will be able to relate, especially after going through the pandemic.
How hands-on were you with developing your character Aphrodite?
As much as I could be because, obviously, I'm Ashanti, not Aphrodite. For instance, I thought it was cool when the hairdresser said, "Hey, let's do red hair," because I have black hair. The character itself—she's mean and a little stylish. Maybe I would've chosen different outfits for myself, but the choices were perfect for the character. You bring as much as you can to the character to make it seem as authentic as possible.
In addition to your movie, you've released new music, including the "Gotta Move On (Queens Remix)" with Yung Miami. What can people expect next when it comes to music?
I have a new single called "Falling For You" that I wrote with Yung Bleu. My sister [Shia Douglas] was the creative director for the video, which I love. The reactions and responses have been amazing. We hit No. 1 on Apple videos and number two on R&B. I'm super excited for everyone to hear the rest of the music.
You were the "it girl" in the 2000s when it came to fashion and beauty. How would you summarize your beauty and fashion evolution?
First of all, thank you. As you evolve and age, you become more comfortable in your skin. I might put on a bikini a little more often now than when I first came out. A lot of the confidence comes from within, and obviously, you stay stylish because you've got to give the girls a little something. For me, it's just about staying true to myself and accentuating the good things I love about myself. I'm proud to be happy with who I am.
If you could think of a beauty or fashion trend from the 2000s that you're glad stayed in the 2000s, what would it be?
The low-rise tie-up bell bottoms. Every time you bent over, it was a lot going on. But crop tops and low-waisted jeans were my go-to outfit. My abs were poppin', so I wanted to show them off.
Do you have any fashion regrets?
Wearing cargo pants and bucket hats. I still love a good bucket hat, though.
If you could give your younger self a piece of style or beauty advice, what would you tell her?
I would [tell myself to focus on] being healthy from within. I feel I've done a decent job of caring for myself and watching what I eat. I've become a pescatarian within the last seven or eight years. I stopped eating red meat and pork when I was in 10th grade. I'm trying to go vegetarian now. Maybe I would've told my younger self to start that a little earlier.
How do you define self-care, and how do you create your self-care routine?
Self-care is very important. I work on this daily because my schedule has been packed with shows, interviews, and appearances, and I have not taken the time out for myself. This is the first week in months that I am off for seven days straight. So my self-care routine will consist of massages, quiet time, writing some songs, and doing some shopping. I'm getting excited just thinking about it.
What do you do to maintain your self-care routine?
That's a tough question. With the position I'm in right now, I have to work hard and make some sacrifices. So, boundaries are important. I can do a bunch of interviews, but when I'm down to three or four hours of sleep, I have to [carve out some self-care time]. Creating a balance when working hard and going after all these amazing opportunities is essential. You have to be cognizant of your mental health, get enough sleep, drink enough water, and eat the right foods.
How do your wellness and beauty routines go hand-in-hand?
What goes into your body should go hand-in-hand with your beauty routine. I have been on tour for months, and tour food is not good, but I am back on track with juicing and incorporating healthy food and exercise into my routine.