Ariana Grande and her healthy ego
Everyone wants a piece of Ariana Grande right now.
The 21-year-old is one of the hottest acts on the planet - she has a No. 1 album worldwide (My Everything) and was the "most streamed artist in the world" last week, according to Spotify. She's as hot as Beyonce on social media at a time when Beyonce is red hot (Grande opened the MTV awards and Beyonce memorably closed them).
It's little surprise, then, that Grande has a healthy ego. She certainly lived up to the starlet stereotype when she met the media in Sydney ahead of her performance on the Australian version of the X Factor.
Midway through a photo shoot with a media outlet, Grande decides she doesn't like the photos and wants to change outfits and do the shoot again.
She then demands the photos taken so far be destroyed and when the photographer refuses, she cancels the remaining photo shoots - including Fairfax Media's.
When Grande finally sits down for our filmed interview - more than an hour late - she seems agitated and obsessed with how she looks, especially her hair. She's concerned that the top of her head not be in shot so she looks taller.
As a courtesy I tell her what I'll be asking - it usually helps put an interviewee at ease. I'd read she was a horror movie fan - she apparently used to paint her face in skull make-up - and that I'll ask about that but she ticks me off: "Everybody asks me about horror movies".
I try again, telling her she "brought the sunshine" to Sydney. Grande: "I love the rain. I'm sorry I missed it."
She begins, with the camera running: "I'm Ariande Grande. I'm from Boca Raton, Florida, I love animals. I don't know. I sing music..."
I ask her to describe what makes her different from other artists.
"Well, that's a big question. That's a very hard one, I feel like you need to listen to my music and just get to know me ... you can't just put me on the spot like that!"
Grande says her quick success has been "surreal" and that it's "sorta of my like life now, so that's a dream come true. If I think about it for too long it gets too intimidating".
So to the horror films. I ask: "Which character would she be at the end of the film? The killer or the girl who gets caught?"
"I've actually got a really good answer to this. It's kinda messed up that I had a good answer to this and not who is 'Ariana Grande' ... the girl who gets killed first, the one that's like 'oh you wouldn't! I dare you!' Like the Drew Barrymore."
I ask how she looks after herself, especially given the death over the weekend of G.R.L.'s Simone Battle (she hadn't yet heard the news).
"Creating a healthy brain space for yourself, maintaining a happy life and protecting yourself from the bullshit that's our there is a fulltime job. For someone to ask 'how do you stay so positive?' I'm like 'Girl! Work!' You have to work it, it's such a hard thing."
Reality TV is a path Grande has avoided. Is she pleased she didn't go there?
"No. There are so many people out there who are insanely talented and deserve to be noticed and whatever. Coming from a girl whose brother is on a reality television show right now ... those shows are sometime great for finding that talent. I know so many people who are so talented, if I had a record company I'd just hand them deals."
Is Grande bothered that she gets called "babyface", or that in her recent Twitter Q&A a follower asked whether she gets given crayons when she goes to McDonald's?
"I don't go to McDonald's. I don't really focus too much on [my age], if I did I would be like giving in to my ego and not productive.
"Also I'm in this because I like making music not because I wanna be a supermodel," she says, before quickly adding "If I look young that will help me out when I'm 40 and I look 30."
I ask how is she different at 21 - in the first blush of global superstardom - to when she was 16, before she got a part in the Nickelodeon show Victorious? Wildy different, she says. "We all change and grow up and evolve. It's been a great journey."
Does she miss that pre-stardom Ariana? Maybe wish she could go back sometimes?
"No. Not at all. I'm the same. I'm like honestly the same."
Grande, who describes herself as a feminist, is by no means the most sexualised of today's female pop stars, but her very young appearance makes the overt sexuality in some of her video clips discomfitting.
Like when she begins to strip in zero gravity in her latest video clip, Break Free. Or maybe when she fires missiles out of her "boob cannons" to kill the bad guy.
"Women should be able to express themselves however they want," she says. "I think that's feminism, taking pride in your body, taking pride in your work and doing whatever you want."
Sydney Morning Herald