Pop singers used to be pop singers, and actors used to be actors. Now that the two have become almost interchangeable, Christina Milian can go ahead and chase a Grammy and an Oscar at the same time.
The New Jersey-born Cuban-American did her first commercial, for Wendy's, at age 9. Her self-entitled debut album was released only abroad in 2002, but the single "AM to PM" did well on Billboard's Hot 100.
Now Milian is 22 and on tour opening for Usher, promoting her latest CD, "It's about Time," released earlier this summer. The first single, "Dip it Low," is a top-five Billboard hit.
She also has two movies set for release in March: "Man of the House" with Tommy Lee Jones and "Be Cool" with John Travolta and Uma Thurman.
The self-professed lover of shoes and SUVs said she's wanted to sing and act since she was a child, watching Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston and the "Wizard of Oz."
AP: You've been around for a long time, but "Dip it Low" is your biggest hit. Why do you think it's taken a while for you to take off?
Milian: I just think it takes time. My first album was about to come out in America but a lot of things were key factors in the reason it didn't come out. September 11 didn't help, you know. I had my record "AM to PM" which was blowing up but then (9/11) happened. ... I think being overseas and touring was a great rehearsal for me.
AP: You've been compared to Beyonce in appearance and voice. How do you feel about that?
Milian: It's a compliment. She amazing, she's an amazing artist ... the hair is one key factor (why I'm compared to her). And it has nothing to do with Beyonce. I think she is a lovely artist, very talented but the only reason I changed my color hair is because I was getting bored of my same old look and I wanted to do something different.
AP: Is your acting career going to be taking a back seat now that your music career is taking off?
Milian: Oh no. I think I'm always going to be doing both. That's what I've always wanted to do and I started out acting and then when I moved into music I focused only on my music so it was about time when movies started coming back into my life that you know it was the right time and the time to say, 'OK I want to get back into movies now and I can do both of them at the same time and balance it out.' I think once these movies come out next year it's going to be even a bigger situation I will have to deal with trying to balance them both.
AP: Do you prefer singing or acting?
Milian: I really don't have a preference over one or the other. I do love, however, performing live on the stage ... above all else. It's my favorite.
AP: Ten years from now do you still hope to be doing both?
Milian: Ten years down the road probably I'll slow down more on the music and it will probably be more of my films because I mean how long does, how many more topics, how many changes can I possible make? But who knows. Look at Madonna and Janet Jackson.
AP: How do you feel about being a role model to young girls?
Milian: I definitely feel good about it because you know I'm not a shy person. I definitely just tell the girls, though, to be their own person. There are a lot of people out there that they look up to. At the end of the day you have to be your own person and love yourself.