It's been a rough 18 months for the pop ingenue, but Cassie's moving on toward happily ever after.
This feature originally appeared in Complex's August/September 2007 issue.
If being an overnight celebrity sounds easy, you haven’t heard Casandra “Cassie” Ventura’s story. Not so long ago, the 21-year-old Connecticut native was just your average full-time model living in New York. Then the multiculti beauty1 met producer Ryan Leslie2, and promptly bodied Tila Tequila to become the ultimate MySpace success story3, swooping down out of cyberspace with the top-charting pas de dome “Me & U.” Thanks to a titillating song and a scintillating face, Cassie attracted attention faster than you can say, “Is it racist if I say you’re exotic-looking?”
Then the fairy tale hit a speed bump. From controversial radio interviews4 to nervously lip-synched TRL and 106 & Park performances to an embarrassing and explicit leaked “Me & U” video and anemic album sales, Cassie found herself in the midst of a PR shitstorm—but she refused to bite the poison apple. She forged ahead, working on her untitled sophomore album, starring as Kanye West’s better half in his video for “Stronger,” and auditioning for several movie roles. Jealous stepsisters, wake up: The beauty is done sleeping.
Your career took off kinda fast. How much have things changed for you in the last year?
The last time around was just a hazy experience. I didn’t really know what was going on. I barely even knew that albums had concepts and a story, and that’s what sells records. I was a regular girl with a hot single. I think a lot of people missed who I am.
Was there ever a point you felt overwhelmed?
People ask you the same questions over and over that [have] nothing to do with the music or me being an artist, whether it’s the performances or “Why did you do that [YouTube] video?” I hit a wall. So I started to get cheesy and read The Secret. [Laughs.]
Okay, Oprah. Why do you think people were hating so much?
Maybe it’s because it felt like I took it for granted and that I didn’t work hard enough. I didn’t know how powerful it was to have that big of a single. That’s why I’m going back with vocal coaches and acting coaches so that if it doesn’t work out a second time, at least I can say I put 110 percent into it. People still have stuff to say. They call me “D-list,” “America’s Favorite Non-Singer”—or they say, “She needs to go back to modeling.” Oh, I’ve heard it all. [Laughs.]
They call me 'America's Favorite Non-Singer.'
So there’s no truth to the rumors that you were involved with Diddy or your producer Ryan Leslie…
They have no root. Somebody just starts it. “Cassie’s pregnant with somebody’s baby.” Sites saying they heard from a specific source. [Laughs.] I read this thing where Beyoncé’s like, “I haven’t looked online in seven years to read about myself. That’s how I keep going. Nothing can pull me back into that matrix.” That’s a good situation. But for me, that’s where I connected first, so I can’t leave that behind. I don’t read celebrity blogs, but I like Perez Hilton when I do.