Mariah Carey has been an international superstar for a decade. But, along with the diva-like status has come a barrage of constant, ongoing rumors about her sex life, style of dress, racial background and alleged battles with Whitney Houston.
She's forging ahead with plans for success on the big screen and more ballad-filled albums, and she wants to set the record straight.
Carey told Jet that even though her music has sold millions of copies around the world, for more attention is often paid to her personal life than her career. And so much of it is erroneous.
"I'll make a record with someone, and it'll be like they're my new man or something. It's funny to me and makes me laugh. It is so untrue," she said. "I'd like people to focus on my writing and singing. But once you become a public person, there's a certain level of fascination about your personal life."
The latest rumor is she's dating Latin singing sensation Luis Miguel. She was not comfortable discussing the issue, but did say, "Well, we're not getting married. Let's put it that way."
And on the social side, she is constantly amazed that some people portray her as one who is very looks morally and sexually. Carey said she knows there are people out there who see her as a tramp, but she says they're very much mistaken. "There's very few people who've been in my bedroom. The average person out there would be shocked at how few there are."
When she and Houston teamed up to do a duet for the animated film The Prince of Egypt, the rumor mill kicked into high gear by suggesting that the two superstar divas would immediately engage in a major-league cat fight. "They did expect that," she said. "But we really enjoyed working together. We had a good time. She's a lot of fun and I really like her. I really respect her as a vocalist. I really do."
Few singers have reached Carey's level of record sales and even fewer have had as many No. 1 singles. She had 13 No.1 hits. However, there was an immediate downside for her. When she burst on the music scene, there was much talk and open speculation about her ethnicity. And, years later, it is still a major topic of discussion. Some have said she's a Black woman trying to be White and vice versa. Entertainer Sandra Bernhard recently made negative public remarks about Carey's background.
Even though she didn't want to discuss it, Carey is hoping the topic of her ethnic identity will finally be put to bed. "Ethnically, I'm a person of mixed race. My father's mother was African-American. His father was from Venezuela. My mother is Irish. I see myself as a person of color who happens to be mixed with a lot of things. And no matter how I answer... No matter what you say, when someone asks you the question 'What are you?' and you say 'Black' and you look mixed, they're going to ask what you're mixed with. That's what always happens. I think a lot of people who look at me and don't know a lot about mixed-race people are confused by it. Therefore, comments are made. What I find racist and unfair is that if someone's half Chinese and half Italian, that's two different races, why are they not forced to constantly define what they are? When it comes to a Black and a White thing, people are up in arms. I've dealt with it (the topic of race) in the past. Unless they want me to put a sticker on every album with a description of my ethnic background, I don't know how much more I can do."
Because she's had such phenomenal success, Carey said she tries to stay focused on all the positive blessings in her life and not to focus on those negative stories and rumors. On the positive front, she recently has begun to tackle Hollywood. She performed opposed Chris O'Donnell in the upcoming film The Bachelor and has a starring role in All That Glitters. "The title of that one might change by the time it comes out," she explained. "We haven't started production yet, but I play an aspiring singer back in the 1980s. It's about the singer and a disc jockey. It's a love story, but it's also about what happens to their relationship when fame finally comes. It's interesting because it's set in the club scenes at that time in New York City. I'm doing six songs myself for the soundtrack. Hopefully, we'll get some other artists to do some work on there."
Her role in The Bachelor was small and more of a cameo. "It was just for fun, They're writing about it like it's a huge deal, but it's really a small role. It was cute, and I had a good time doing it."
The constant rumors and speculation has forced her to erect a wall of sorts and be constantly wary of the media. She pointed out that she has given interviews and words and passages have been taken completely out of context. "You can ask me a question and not print the question, but print my response as though I said it out of the blue. I really like to stay positive because anything I say gets taken out of context. Ninety-nine percent of the things they write about me aren't true."
She said she's always been a positive person and she really wants her millions of fans to know that more than anything she's appreciative of all the blessings they've bestowed on her. "I'm a very grateful person who has a lot of love in my heart for most people. I've experienced a lot of pain in my life prior to getting to this place, during the road that brought me here. Even from childhood. But I'm the type of person to push past that. I channel all those negatives into positive things like my music. Putting all that into music is what's gotten me here."
And she said she plans to keep pushing past the negative and to keep giving fans what they've come to expect from her moving and meaningful music.