Teri is a vocalist but more importantly, she's an entertainer. One size NEVER fits all, especially when it comes to show biz.
The Demands of a Diva
Why are famous and talented entertainers called a "diva" when they want to be taken seriously—what does that term really mean? This lady singer takes a look at the physicality of being a vocalist, as well as behaviors of a few of the music and fashion industries' well-known divas.
When people hear the word “diva,” they probably immediately think of some haughty, ill-mannered woman (or man) who must throw temper-tantrums to get her (his) way. We’ve all heard the stories about celebrities who demand certain things in their contracts—such as specific brands of water, specially-designed dressing rooms, types of snacks, and truly nitpicky things like the color of candy that’s placed in the backstage area.
The Definition of Diva
What is a diva? Where did the name come from? Why are people who need to have a certain environment in which to perform their craft considered to be “difficult?”
What have people said about these high-level celebrities; is it fair? Let’s start with some definitions.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “diva” as (1); a musical or operatic prima donna, (2); the top-billed female singer of the company, (3); a famous, fashionable and successful woman or celebrity. Other sources call the word “diva” a compliment for great singers or well-respected ladies.
However, the term has become one to describe a woman who acts so high and mighty that others become afraid to displease her.
Are all singers so-called divas, and is it fair to consider one person’s needs the same thing as another’s seemingly outrageous demands?
I have been a vocalist for decades; discovering my talent when I was about 10 years old. My main influences were (and still are) Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Karen Carpenter, Gladys Knight, and Cass Elliot . . . but there are so many other powerful lady singers who have taught me along the way; the list is practically endless!
As a musician, I can tell you this: things change. The older I get, the more my range, styles, physical needs, and comfort levels change. What was once a five and ½ octave vocal range is now three, on a good day. This is something that happens to everyone, whether they sing, dance, write, paint—the way we produce our art changes with the onset of life.
I am The Diva because, as a singer who always strives to present a hopefully-near-perfect performance (and one who is now in the second half of life), my physical abilities are changing, too. Giving voice to these comfort needs is not being unreasonable; it’s being sensible. That’s the same way I view all musicians, actors, comedians and performers. The more comfortable we are onstage, the better we can do our jobs of entertaining the audience.
The ladies of song achieve “diva status” because, well, for one thing, they can sing.
Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Cher, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston … these ladies (and others) are divas because they have wide and powerful vocal ranges, and their musical flexibility lets them perform in different genres. That, and the public relations/promotions teams of their record labels worked some magic, too.
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Are these ladies “temperamental?” Yes, sometimes. But there might be a multitude of reasons.
Tech Specs of Vocals
- Room temperature: Overly-cool or warm air is hard on the throat; muscles can tighten if vocal chords are not protected from weather-related elements. A singer may ask for honey, water, tea, warm liquid, or other items that help protect her/his instrument.
- Physical abilities: For a vocalist, the body is an instrument—as we age, it gets harder to stand for hours in performance and deliver a strong product. The ability to stand, sit upright and breath deeply is very import for air to circulate through the diaphragmatic muscles to the larynx (to be released through the mouth).
- Comfort level: After so many years of traveling, performing, acting, recording, publicity appearances . . . yes, it must take a lot to be famous and be all things to all people, all the time. This is true for any one of us—when we are in comfortable and recognizable surroundings, we are more at ease and better rested. Heck, we’re in a better mood, altogether.
For celebrities who are on the road often, it is constant turmoil to be in different places every few days–it can be exhausting, and of course, nothing is ever private anymore (thanks to the internet). So, if a celebrity or athlete is a little grumpy, I would give her or him a little slack because, at the end of the day, we are all human.
- The music itself: Good, experienced and professional vocalists are musicians; we can hear when things sound right or wrong. We have "the ear," and can hear when notes don’t work right (from instruments or background vocals), and we can tell when the overall production isn’t up to par. Instrumentalists and studio producers don’t often like it when singers tell them that something is not working, and thus, these talented ladies are dismissed and considered temperamental and ignorant of the overall process.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Talented women singers may not all be technical gurus, but, as I’ve said, we can hear what’s happening in our headphones, monitors, and own eardrums. When the sound is wrong, then it’s wrong—and no one can do their jobs well. If musicians dismiss our opinions, then we must demand to be heard. A top-shelf celebrity can get the job done but it often happens only after she or he displays a little of that unpleasant temperament. People who are employed to create accompaniment or background music, or look after the band and crew, or handle the publicity . . . from time to time, these folks may be challenged to comply with requests. However, if the employees are not listening to the boss, then the whole production value goes down in flames.
Do some high-level celebrities take advantage of this queen-bee status? Yes. But they work hard at their craft; entertaining people can be a tough job. And so many others benefit from an entertainer’s work; producers, managers, crews, publicists, background vocalists and stage musicians, light and sound technicians, venues . . . the list goes on. A little kid-glove handling is just part of the whole package.
While there are many ladies of the entertainment world who prance around in glittery underwear and are noted for "unusual behavior," let's meet a few—only a few—of the more known "divas" of today and yesterday. Sadly, we've lost a couple of these wonderful talents, but strong their reputations and wonderful music will last forever.
The Classic Divas: Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin (March 25, 1942-August 16, 2018): Titling one of her studio albums La Diva (Atlantic Records; 1979), Ms. Franklin has admitted that she's gone down that road . . . and the years leading up to her death were no different.
For example, in 1998, the Queen of Soul was the headliner of Divas Live, (VH1; 1998)—leading a group of women that included Carole King, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, Mariah Carey and Shania Twain. An infamous story of the show's rehearsal day was that Franklin’s management instructed producers to turn off the air conditioning in the venue (because an AC unit's breezy air flow is bad for the vocal chords). Producers did not comply with the request (and predetermined agreement).
When Aretha Franklin heard and felt the air conditioner running, hot words were exchanged before she left the concert stage. The producers of Divas Live claim that technicians were servicing the air conditioning system so, yes, it was on—and that other performers didn’t like the overly-warm stage area, anyway. Would Aretha perform for the telecast? The producers were afraid she wouldn’t show up. However, of course, Aretha Franklin was always the professional; she did perform for Divas Live (it was a highly successful show–thanks to her).
By the way, Aretha Franklin was correct; cool air is bad for the vocal chords.
I am a singer, so I will say that again . . . cool air is BAD for the vocal chords.
Aretha Franklin was the headlining vocalist for that multimillion-dollar broadcast; she knew what it would take to help her provide the best performance possible. The producers of that show said and did whatever they could—patronizing Franklin and her management team to make them happy. But, in the end, it appears that the producers of Divas Live showed absolutely NO concern or R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the Queen of Soul, because during the live performance, they turned the air conditioning on—regardless of the agreement they had made.
Aretha Franklin sold more than 75 million records, had 17 top-10 hits, 112 charted Billboard singles, 18 Grammy awards and 100 R & B hits. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Classic Divas: Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand (April 24, 1942): I can go on and on about the diva-like behaviors of Barbra Joan Streisand, but to be fair, I should come out and say that she had–and still has–a great influence on me, vocally. I have learned so much from listening to her sing over the decades; it started when I was about 9 or 10 years old and first heard the Funny Girl movie soundtrack album (it is still in my vinyl collection).
I had the honor, pleasure and dream come true of sitting in the front row at Barbra Streisand's final (?) concert in Brooklyn, New York (May 6, 2017). When Ms. Streisand stood five feet away, singing to "me," I was not prepared for the emotions that came. So, with disclosure of personal connection, yes, Barbra Streisand is a definite favorite.
Barbra Streisand is famous as a singer, actor, director, writer, producer, and philanthropist. Her long and distinguished career includes, as of this writing, eight Grammy awards (43 nominations); Grammy Legends (1992) and Grammy Lifetime Achievement (1994) awards; four Grammy Hall of Fame inductions; five Emmys, and:
- Tony Award
- American Film Institute award
- four Peabody Awards
- Kennedy Center Honors prize
- Presidential Medal of Freedom
- nine Golden Globes
- two Oscars
In a career that spans six decades, other awards for Barbra Streisand include People’s Choice, National Medal of Arts, and many, many more.
Streisand, the Diva?
Sure, and why not? But Streisand has always called herself a “perfectionist,” as she searches for what she thinks will work best in situations that involve her. Starting in the 1960s and beyond, Barbra Streisand has tackled her share of sexist attitudes in the entertainment business, and everywhere else. Over the years, she has fought against people who have dismissed her opinions and needs—purely, she believes, because she is female.
Still, Ms. Streisand has had some seemingly-outrageous demands from her past performance tours. Heavy security (in nice clothes; no t-shirts), exorbitant ticket prices, remodeled concert venues and stages . . . it is all part of the package. But if she didn't deliver the goods, she could not wield the power.
Everything Barbra Streisand does is on a grand scale, and her fans willingly pay the price.
The Classic Divas: Cher
Cher (May 20, 1946): Cherilyn Sarkisian La Piere Bono Allman eventually became known as the Goddess of Pop by her fans, media, and contemporaries. She quit school at the age of 16, left her mother’s home and sought work in show business as a singer and dancer. Cher met Sonny Bono in 1962. The two of them became friends, roommates and lovers; they were eventually married. Cher sang backup on several of record producer Phil Spector’s creations; she later cut her first (commercially unsuccessful) single under the name Bonnie Jo Mason.
The Sonny and Cher liaison began in the early 1960s, but Sonny Bono originally wanted to launch Cher as a single performer. It was in 1965 when the two performers, originally calling themselves Caesar & Cleo, began their career as Sonny & Cher. They recorded their smash hit I Got You Babe–and the rest, as they say, is history.
With a career that spanned decades and loaded with hit songs, albums, several variety shows, movie roles and awards, musical tours, and then-some, Cher–that’s the only name she would ever need for stardom—was/is always at the height of fashion. Costumes, makeup and wigs are only part of the equation.
Did Cher have her fair share of Diva-inspired moments? Yes, according to one of her co-stars in the movie Witches of Eastwick (1987). Actress Susan Sarandon claims Cher would avoid working on scenes where she didn’t have a lot of lines because they were not directly related to her. When it came to scenes that focused on Michelle Pfeiffer or Jack Nicholson, for example, the director filmed Cher’s lines and sent her home—at her request. But Cher denies that, and, of course, the filming of WoE was more than 30 years ago. (Sarandon later clarified her comments as not to be taken mean-spiritedly; she has a lot of love and respect for Cher).
There have been a few other diva-esque moments over the years, but with the amazing career that Cher has had, and . . . her advancing age . . . it is fair to say she deserves the respect of knowing who she is and what it has taken—and still takes—to keep up the persona we’ve come to love and expect.
The audience wants glitz, glitter and glamour . . . that's what it's all about.
The Classic Divas: Diana Ross
Diana Ross (March 26, 1944): The one-time lead singer of the Supremes, Diana Ross spent her early star-powered years known as the ultimate diva. Make that the Ultimate Diva. According to an unauthorized biography from author Randy Taraborrelli (Call Her Miss Ross), and the Supremes’ Mary Wilson's memoir (Dreamgirls), Diana Ross was ill-tempered and renown for bad behavior. Taraborrelli notes Diana Ross once had 40 personal assistants, and she would demand that all dressing rooms be decorated with a particular color scheme and pattern.
During the highlight of her diva days, Diana Ross was known for wanting to upstage anyone who might garner more attention that her. For example, when former Supremes singer Florence Ballard died in 1976, Diana Ross made a point to arrive at the funeral in full red-carpet glamor; edging out the Ballard family from the front row.
And there was the time when the stars of Motown gathered for the highly promoted and produced 25th anniversary show: Ross, Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong would reunite the Supremes on this magical evening. Although the performance footage was edited before the television broadcast, Diana Ross grabbed a microphone out of Wilson’s hands. According to Mary Wilson, the Supremes had only 15 minutes to rehearse—no show producer or director had ever told her that Ross would be inviting Motown founder Berry Gordy to join them onstage. When Wilson spoke Gordy’s name into the microphone, Ross snatched the mic away, hissing at her fellow Supreme that the matter had already been handled. Because of this drama, the Supremes were not able to finish their song alone–other vocalists from Motown joined the women onstage to seemingly prevent a melee.
Tangent: I remember seeing the original broadcast of the Motown 25th Anniversary show on May 16, 1983. My impression back then—it was apparent that Diana Ross wanted attention for herself (although parts of the show were edited out before it aired). The anniversary show aired again in 2015; clips are available on YouTube. My impression of the situation remains the same as it did in 1983.
Regarding Diana Ross, there are a lot of stories of her past diva-like tantrums; some fairly reported but also some that were probably exaggerated to make bigger headlines. Yet, she was notorious about keeping TV crews, reporters, photographers and her own staff members waiting for extended periods of time.
I’ve never liked Diana Ross’s voice much; she lacks the power, range and depth that attracts me to female singers. And do I think Diana Ross deserves the bad behavior label of her Diva status? Yes. But word has it, she has matured some in her later years.
“I don't believe that the diva persona is the only persona that I have; I am a parent and in business—I have a combination of many things,” Diana Ross once told a reporter from The Guardian.
Still, I cannot say I understand why she would treat people so poorly. Why did she–or does she still–act the part of a spoiled bratty child? Because she can–only Ms. Ross can tell you why.
The Classic Divas: Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston (August 9, 1963-February 11, 2012): The first time I heard Whitney Houston sing was in the summer of 1985; her song, You Give Good Love (Arista Records; February; 1985), was on the radio. I was trying to catch some sun, and, quite literally, fell out of my lawn chair—Whitney. Houston. Was. That. Good. Female singers do not automatically impress me, but Whitney had the power, range, and vocal clarity . . . she was bound to go far. Her first album, Whitney Houston (Arista Records; 1985), has many great songs on it.
Whether it was the influence of her ex-husband Bobby Brown, or the drugs that altered her behavior, or some other factor—like the stresses of becoming famous and responsible for supporting so many people—Whitney Houston evolved from an easy-going, sweet and loving person into someone unrecognizable to fans and friends. In a 1999 interview, the reporter asked if Ms. Houston ever considered herself a diva. Whitney Houston admitted, yes . . . sometimes.
But the girl could sing.
Whitney Houston had a dark side that emerged following her 1992 megahit film and soundtrack The Bodyguard. (Warner Bros.; 1992). The strong clear voice became deeper and her model-looks began to show signs of wear and tear. To the outside world, Houston seemed tired, physically unfit, disturbingly thin, and her stellar voice had begun to falter. But the reason for this, according to those who knew her, was still a mystery—regardless of what the tabloids would say. During a past interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Houston told the reporter, “I am not always in a sequined gown and I’m nobody’s angel. I can get down, dirty and raunchy.”
Once known for her promptness and always being prepared, it was in 1999 when, 15 minutes before showtime, she cancelled five performances on her tour to promote the album, My Love is Your Love (Arista Records; 1998). She began showing up late for interviews and photo shoots. In 2000, she was fired from singing at the Oscars. And she blew off her expected appearance at the induction of (Arista Records mogul) Clive Davis to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
In her later years and shortly before she died, Whitney Houston was working to regain her fabulous voice. She could still bring the power and clarity but not as consistently . . . I can relate to that, because as we age, our voices change, and our physical abilities can differ from day to day.
Still, Houston held onto many demons that led her to drinking, and when her lifeless body was found in a bathtub on February 11, 2012, investigators discovered an assortment of prescription drugs.
Essentially, the life Whitney Houston built got the best of her. Alcohol, drugs, a turbulent marriage … it all took its toll. But did that give her call to “act the Diva?”
When she was good, she was very, very good.
Did Whitney Houston’s diva-like behavior stem from her roller-coaster life?
Well, all I can say is that if these elements of Houston’s life are what led to her downfall, today’s top female vocalists better watch their own paths very carefully. If life becomes so uncontrollable that one turns to drugs and alcohol to cope, ask yourself some important questions before you lose absolutely everything.
I miss Whitney. I'll never forget.
Today's Divas: Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande (June 26, 1993): Ariana Grande's music career began to soar in 201l—after the Broadway musical 13, and appearances on a couple of Nickelodeon TV shows. She has American and European music awards and a few Grammy nominations.
Does Ariana Grande behave like the stereotypical and ultimate Diva? Looks like she’s had her moments but in fairness, when you become famous and in demand in a short period of time, people want to get into your face. Her fans want selfies and shoot video of private moments that end up all over the internet.
Still, I remember that moment in July of 2015 when a doughnut shop security video camera caught Grande licking pastries on display and saying “I hate Americans, I hate America; this is disgusting." Grande later said she is very proud to be American and was talking about Americans’ propensity to eating junk food which brings about obesity. Really, Ariana?
But that was a few years ago—Ms. Grande is a young woman who will continue to grow with her career. She has since become a vocal proponent, participator and facilitator for women, LGBT issues, and charitable organizations. She is also trying to be a good role model to her young fans. Yet, and these are noted instances, Ariana Grande seems to take her fans for granted. For instance, there was the time she hardly acknowledged two girls who won a MTV contest to spend time with her, and that she insisted her security team make sure any photos the girls took were deleted.
Grande has her idiosyncrasies, such as demanding professional photographers only shoot from her left side in artificial light. She also insists that shots she doesn’t like must be deleted and if she doesn’t get what she wants, she’ll send her security team to intimidate the photographer. Grande also seems to be unaware of what every celebrity should know; “hot mic.” She’s been caught a couple of times in public performances for spewing expletives into a microphone.
And there was the time when, after an autograph session, she said something to the effect that she wished all the people there would “BLEEP BLEEP die.”
And when she is tired or doesn’t want to get dirty, Ariana Grande’s staffers must pick her up and carry her from here to there.
Well, here it is, Ariana . . . get a grip. You wanted to be famous and there are ups and downs to the whole gig. But the bottom line is, people are watching—these are the ones who think you’re worth the price of admission. You can have your moments (the media will pick on everything, anyway) but if you pick your battles carefully and remember that you represent more than just yourself, you will be better off in the long run. You’re still a kid to most of us. Be good to your fans; they are the ones who will keep you from being a “used-to-be” when you reach your later years.
Today's Divas: Beyoncé
Beyoncé (September 4, 1981): In the grand scheme of things, Beyoncé is rather new at being the Diva. Having sold millions of records and developing a huge loyal fan base, the former Destiny’s Child singer has done pretty well on her own. I am not a fan, but I think she is a pretty girl who can sing well . . . and she does bring class to the stage. Beyoncé’s message to “single ladies” is appreciated, and I do like how hard she works to be a positive role model to young women.
Does Beyoncé have "give me some space” moments? I would think so, after all, she is only human—telling people to back off is necessary for all of us to do when we feel too closed in. But in my research, I have not discovered anything so over the top that I would be rolling my eyes in disbelief. Yes, Beyoncé has asked for some seemingly ridiculous things, such as making sure her childcare providers follow a particular type of protocol and . . . why not? If you want rose-scented candles for your nursery, wouldn’t you buy them? If you can afford to spend thousands of dollars to have a handmade cedar cot flown halfway across the world (to ensure “optimum sleeping conditions”) for your babies, why not? It’s her money (and she has plenty of it) so Beyoncé can spend it any way she wants.
Beyoncé has had a few less-than-classy-moments in public, and she’s been known to diss the “competition” in some cat-like situations, especially when the tabloid media is ready and hoping she would pounce on her prey.
We’ll leave it at that.
Today's Divas: Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Lopez (July 24, 1969): A beautiful girl who found her talents appreciated, Jennifer Lopez (or, J-Lo as she is known to her friends, fans and the media) is famous for her work as a singer, dancer, actress, and producer. In 1997, Jennifer Lopez received a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez; a Tejano singer who was murdered at the age of 23. Jennifer Lopez went on to star in many films; she is a top name in Hollywood circles. That, along with earning millions of dollars in record sales, fragrance and clothing lines, and being a headliner in the media frenzy over her three marriages (and divorces), Jennifer Lopez is possibly the most influential and sought out Latin performer and entrepreneur in America. Oh, and let's not forget J-Lo's love for wearing stylish, eye-catching ensembles when appearing on the Red Carpet.
Jennifer Lopez is also known for her own Diva-like behavior. When on tour or appearing in public, word has it Lopez always asks for a white dressing room—complete with white curtains, white roses, white linens, candles, dishes and everything white, white, white. J-Lo demands a germ-resistant toilet seat that is specifically designed for her, and she insists on her staff calling her “number one.” But “Jenny from the block” says fame and fortune hasn’t really changed her that much. She now has more of a voice in her political and activism philanthropic goals, being involved in many charitable organizations.
But Diva is the word for Jennifer Lopez. Notably, some of her best moments include a preferred room temperature of 80 degrees F/26 C (with two humidifiers and two rotating fans) and candles that have specific scents (lime blossom or Jo Malone’s grapefruit are particular favorites).
Rumors are still flying about this—members are not allowed to make eye contact or speak directly to “Jenny from the block.”
Now, let’s be fair. What is wrong when a customer (who pays for an expensive hotel suite and has extra items added to the bill) asks for specific things such as a toaster, microwave, hot water kettle and coffee pot? Don’t coffee cups and silverware come with the deal? Lopez asks for these things, as well as a dozen bottles of water for her dressing and wardrobe room. Not a big problem, in my book, nor is having a personal stylist while serving as a judge on American Idol—J-Lo has an image to keep up.
As long as the public wants her, and the TV, movie and music worlds want her . . . Jennifer Lopez is in demand. So, why not?
Today's Divas: Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey (March 27, 1969): I have never been a fan of Mariah Carey, but the girl can sing well–I’ll give her that. She is noted for her five-octave vocal range, power, and varying style. In December of 1988, Carey presented her demo tape to Columbia Records executive (and future husband #1) Tommy Mattola who signed her to the label; putting Mariah on the track to stardom.
In today’s music world, Mariah Carey is definitely known for her Diva “it’s all about me” behavior.
"I have had diva moments, and then people can't handle it," she told a magazine in 2017.
Here are some of the scenes Carey has been noted for, over the years. Word has it that she:
- Will not respond to anyone who speaks to her on the day of a performance because she doesn’t want to strain her voice. (I actually understand that—we singers do everything to project our voices). Carey will respond with sign language or by writing. She has humidifiers in her rooms, too.
- Demanded a red carpet . . . bordered with white candles . . . when entering a London hotel in 2005
- Doesn’t like busy patterns and stairs
- Asks for help when sitting down so as not to put creases in her clothes
- When wearing high heels (especially in public), Mariah Carey often has one of her assistants in front of her but walking backward (to make the catch in case she stumbles or falls)
- Wears sunglasses inside because of the fluorescent lighting
- Wants to be filmed only from specific angles.
Mariah Carey has done some unexpected things in public, but for the most part, she and her public relations team has explained them away . . . truth or not.
There was the time when Carey sent her lighting team to a radio station before an on-air interview. On the radio. No video, no picture stills. (2014)
There was the 2017 New Year’s Eve performance that became a disaster, and Carey’s response to technical glitches in front of America. She called the whole situation a chaotic mess that was out of her control; she put the blame on everyone else involved.
The technical glitches did lead to a chaotic mess that was out of her control, but Mariah Carey could have handled it more gracefully than she did. Yeesh.
Here was my thought on that one: I am a powerful singer with a lot of stage experience–inside and outside. I know how difficult it can be to perform live in cold, damp, and windy weather–especially when the equipment crashes and sound is wrong . . . I've been there and it is not fun. But I also know how to prepare for the unexpected and change the game plan in front of an audience. At this stage of her career, Mariah should know, too. This overly-pampered professional singer couldn't—or wouldn't—pull it off. That, and the outfit was ridiculous. Sure, she still has a lovely figure but prancing around in little more than a bathing suit and heels was far from classy. Meow meow meow. t
Oh, and there have been so many more diva-esque moments . . . Carey hasn’t seemingly grown out of her Queen Bee stage. She doesn’t appear to be having a good time with her fame. Too much clutter can, indeed, lead to chaos.
I hope that Mariah Carey finds what really, truly makes her happy. We all deserve that. Sometimes we find true happiness in the most simplest of things. Reduce the clutter, Mariah, and perhaps you can find it, too.
Today's Divas: Naomi Campbell
Naomi Campbell (May 22, 1970): I am not sure why model Naomi Campbell has been given the super status at all—but because the media has called her the Diva, so be it. Campbell is a model-actress-singer who became popular in the 1980s and 1990s.
Campbell has been noted for a string of bad behavior—incidents that she has said are regrettable, as she once told Oprah Winfrey in an interview some years ago. Regret, shame, and remorse. A couple of Naomi Campbell’s more notable Diva moments:
- Charges filed as the result of Campbell’s assistant claiming her boss assaulted her with a phone and then threatened to toss her from a moving vehicle (1998)
- Throwing her phone at a maid (2007)
- Attacking two police officers at a London airport (2008)
- More of the same
Naomi Campbell thinks there are underlying reasons for some of the things she has done, including abandonment as a child (as she told Ms. Winfrey), past substance use, and the surrounding pressures of being a model–a career she began at age 15.
Some of Ms. Campbell’s other known quirks are that she wouldn’t allow staff members of The Face (modeling themed reality TV series; 2014) to talk to her unless she spoke first; showing up late to photo shoots; and not playing nice in the sandbox with other models.
Will Naomi Campbell ever have complete control of all the supposed-anger that seems to swirl within her? I hope so, for her sake. We all struggle with demons but if having a career doing what you love and making money because of it . . . if that’s too much . . . then, take some stock and take it back a notch. The world doesn’t always have to revolve around you, particularly if it means you are now something you do not want to be. That may sound easy . . . it's not. But the choice is yours.
In All Fairness . . . What Society Wants
Our society still demands to see beautiful women. For decades, music and stage producers have decided that having well-built girls who can dance and show off their physical attributes is a major draw for audiences–men women, boys and girls. Having vocal talent adds to the mix but it's not always the main attraction. And it is not always the singers themselves who are allowed to decide what to wear, how they should act, or what to do. The glamour package is all part of the publicity plan put into place by producers, record moguls and "property" management.
“Diva” can mean different things for different people, but all in all, it’s a personal decision for how people choose to behave, in the wake of their stardom–or lack of it. Of course, though some people only behave that way for the publicity.
Again, in all fairness, when it comes to knowing how to produce the music that comes from within us, women are not always taken seriously; the surrounding team creates the environment which may or may not provide an appropriate comfort level.
The right comfort level is always necessary to bring about the best performance.
In fact, one’s own personal comfort level is very important for both men and women, and especially for those of us past the teens, 20s, 30s and beyond.
Making our voice known is part of the package.
© 2018 Teri Silver