By Miki Turner
Special to Page 3
NEW YORK -- By now everyone knows Ashanti Douglas -- who recently dropped her third CD, "Concrete Rose" -- as one of the hottest solo recording artists in the music industry. Soon after her feature-film debut in "Coach Carter," she's likely get some props for her acting skills, too.
But few know that Douglas might have been the second coming of Marion Jones had her music career not taken off when she was a teenager. That's right, the Grammy-winning diva from Long Island can groove and move.
Page 3 caught up with the former track star and talked about her acting aspirations, her athletic achievements and her fascination with dead bodies.
This is your first movie, were you nervous at all?
Ashanti: I guess a little bit, but I prepared so well the first night. I made everybody in the house read with me like two or three times.
What was it like being on set with all of that testosterone?
It's kind of weird (laughs). I think my life has been full circle. From the time I was like six years old, I was the only girl on the block and I would go outside and run with the boys. I ended up on a label where there's nothing but guys, and here I am in a movie where there's nothing but guys! It was a great experience though. The guys were really, really cool and everyone made me feel really comfortable.
You actually look like a teenager in the film, was it hard to 86 the glam?
Definitely. I was mad that I had to cut my nails and take my pink and white (polish) off. I wore my natural black hair. I wanted to do that because I wanted people to see me as Ashanti Douglas the actress and not Ashanti the artist.
What was it like playing the pregnant girlfriend of one of the players?
It was really easy for me to kind of go back to that because in high school there were a lot of situations like that. Playing this character, I was able to kind of reminisce and go back there and get some truth.
Did you play any sports as a kid?
I played baseball, a little bit of soccer, badminton and I ran track. I made the Wall of Fame at my high school for track.
Did you consider that as a career choice?
Oh, yeah. I got two scholarships, one to Princeton and one to Hampton. So, if this music thing didn't work out ...
You were ready to be the next Wilma Rudolph?
What events did you run?
I did the 200, the triple jump and sometimes, the 100 meters. When we did winter track sometimes I did the 50.
Talk about your proudest moments as an entertainer and as an athlete.
I'm going to keep it real. I mean, I love the awards, the kudos and the great comments people make. But for me, the best part is when average people come up to me on the street say, 'Oh my gosh, your record "Rain on Me" helped me get out of an abusive relationship. Thank you so much.' And, you get the real tears and you get people shaking and crying and saying, '"Foolish" changed my life.' Those are the rewards for me.
As far as my athletic life, I guess my greatest moments were making the Wall of Fame at my high school, and being scouted by the Olympic committee, and I went to the Empire State Games.
What are you really good at? And what are you really bad at?
I'm good at making people laugh. I'm not good at math at all. I failed math.
If you had gone to college, what would you have studied?
I was going to major in forensic science. If you can cut someone's stomach open and see the peas they haven't digested and then tell what time they died ... I'm amazed by that!
Are we going to see you in more movies soon?
Well, right now I'm doing "The Muppets Wonderful World of Oz." I'm playing Dorothy. And when I finish that, I'm going out on tour, so we'll see. With "Coach Carter" I didn't feel I was ready to carry an entire film on my shoulders. This was a stepping stone -- testing the waters to see if I like it.
Miki Turner covers the fusion of sports and entertainment for Page 3 in Los Angeles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.