“Ask Nicki about her secret boo,” commands @thedailyarse, while @lesliereloaded is more blunt: “Who is your secret man?” This is the moment when Minaj falls out laughing. When her giggles subside, she talks directly to her fans, whom she calls her Barbz. “Barbz, I officially hate you for doing this to this lady,” she tells them, leaning into my tape recorder. “Dear Barbz: I don’t have a man. And if he were a secret man, why would I reveal him?”
On people not taking her seriously
Before Idol, Minaj intentionally hid behind her brightly colored wigs and facades. That was a conscious attempt to “keep up a mystique,” she says, but it often made her seem cartoonish—or worse. Her performance at last year’s Grammys, where she confessed to a priest onstage, then showed a video of her own exorcism, prompted some to label her a poseur, more concerned with attention-getting stunts than hip-hop artistry. But on Idol, people saw a different Minaj. She toned down her look (“I started feeling more comfortable with less”) and proved herself funny, quick-witted, and authentic.
“The perception that people had of me completely changed because there are no cue cards, there’s no script, it wasn’t me performing a song. It was, ‘Let’s see your real personality,’” she says. “My core is a genuine human being who roots for other people. I didn’t want to blow smoke up their a$$. I wanted every contestant to leave with something that they could remember.”
On the next page Nicki speaks on her acting career and the future of her music.
On her future as an actress
Born Onika Tanya Maraj in Trinidad and raised in Queens, New York, Minaj went to Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, where she stoked her dream of becoming an actress. “By the time I’m 19, I’m going to be Halle Berry status,” she remembers telling her classmates. “I really believed it,” she says now, “and when it didn’t happen, I started getting more and more crushed.”…
Among those who liked what they saw was Nick Cassavetes, the director of the upcoming comedy The Other Woman, who was looking to cast the larger-than-life assistant to a lawyer played by Cameron Diaz. When he offered Minaj the role, she says, “I was like, ‘Why does this guy believe in me?’ He goes, ‘I’ve been watching you on Idol, and you’re great.’” Idol, she says, “made me seem more relatable to the everyday person. It’s cracked that shell for my image. I’ve become something bigger than Nicki Minaj.”
The Barbz have a question about the movie. It comes from @bvdxken: “Are you nervous working with these other big actresses?” Minaj doesn’t hesitate: “I would be lying if I said I was not nervous,” she says. “I can’t blow this.”
On her future in music and business
I’m struck by how much she admits she has riding on this first movie role. After all, her third album, tentatively titled The Pink Print, will drop next year. Is her real goal to be a full-time actress? “I at least want to do three more albums. If I can do that, I’ll feel complete,” she says. Wait, she might leave the rap world behind? “One day, when I start getting a couple gray hairs, maybe it will all be only acting. I just never know,” she says. For now, she has a lot going on—there’s also a clothing line launching in October at Kmart. “I’ve kind of become the poster child,” she says, “for doing the things that no one expects.”