By David Michael Conner
Originally published on Advocate.com August 25 2009 10:50 PM ET
Like her childhood friend and former girl-group partner Beyoncé Knowles, LeToya Luckett is known professionally only by her first name, easily identifying her as a diva. The similarities don’t end there: LeToya is a multiple award-winning artist and businesswoman who writes and performs her own music, acts in major motion pictures, and runs her own boutiques. But despite her tumultuous past with Destiny’s Child, LeToya is her own woman with her own career, and she is hoping that her new album will show her to be the independent artist she is.
With two movies in the can, a new album on shelves, and a brand-new sound, LeToya knows that “you don’t sleep on opportunity.” She hasn’t been getting much sleep lately, and the payoff is tremendous.
Advocate.com: Lady Love might be the most lesbian-friendly album title of the year!
LeToya [laughs]: Oh. My. Gosh. Hey, if they like it, I love it!
The new album has a different sound than your last album. How would you describe it?
It’s very different from the last one. I’m glad you could notice that. This album was a lot of fun. It’s all about experiences that I’ve gone through in the last couple of years and being free, not being in that box, coming completely out of my shell. When you do the first album, you’re like, “Oh, well, I need to focus on finding my sound,” and all of these different things. Now I feel like, well, I’ve established that ... let’s just have fun. And that’s what it’s about.
It’s fun, but there are also a lot of ups and downs, emotionally speaking…
You actually listened to it. Yay! Yeah, the thing that I love about it is that it’s still got the R&B groove to it, but like with something like [current single] “She Ain’t Got ... ,” it’s different. It’s something that I probably would have been afraid to do on the first album. It’s a lot of fun, it’s edgy. And “Lady Love” as well. That’s how I start my day, with “Lady Love.” [Laughs] It’s just a fun song. It makes you feel pretty and cute and girly.
You just called the song “She Ain’t Got ... ,” which I think is the name title listed on iTunes, but it’s listed on my album as “She Ain’t Got Shit on Me.” So which is it?
That’s what it is. [Laughs] You can’t really say that everywhere.
Well, you can say it here. I’ve been playing that song on repeat. It has the potential to become a big dance anthem, almost as if it were written with gay clubs in mind.
You know what? It’s about having fun, and I knew the kids would love it. I was like, “If anybody’s going to understand this track, it’s the kids.” I did have everyone in mind with that song.
The single “Not Anymore” is about somebody who’s fed up with a bad relationship, and it feels pretty personal. What inspired the song?
Just different situations that I’ve gone through. With being in love, you do have ups and downs throughout the relationship -- you’re happy, you hate him, all of that. And I have been in the situation where I’ve given, I’ve given, I’ve given, and I didn’t feel like I was being appreciated. I had to get up and get out of there. That’s what the song is about, and now I’m single, I’m livin’ life, I’m free, and I’m lovin’ it!
You worked with Ne-Yo on that song. What was that experience like?
I had a ball working with him. He’s such a professional and a great guy to work with, and so much fun, too. You know, he’s a musical genius; it’s not even fair. He just has a great energy and he’s an all-out great guy. He’s got a big heart.
What’s your next single?
“Regret,” featuring Ludacris.
Are you going to tour for the new album?
I am. Probably in the next couple of months.
People still associate you with Destiny’s Child, but you’ve been very successful on your own. You won an ASCAP Top Songwriter award in 2006 -- a tremendous accomplishment. Do you think people recognize the extent of your artistic involvement in your own music career?
I think that with this album people are starting to appreciate my music and to see who LeToya is -- and that’s what I’ve always wanted. But I understand that [Destiny’s Child is] how you know me, that’s what you associate me with, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Destiny’s Child was an amazing group, and I was blessed to be a part of it. But I am thankful that I do have fans that finally see Toya for who she is. I think I’m finally crossing that bridge.
You’re crossing a lot of bridges. You’re also acting and you have a new movie, Preacher’s Kid, coming out on October 30.
Preacher’s Kid ... was the first film that I’ve ever [starred] in. I got cast for the role four days before shooting. I [originally] got cast for another role, and at the last minute they were like, “Do you want go out for the lead?” and I was like “OK!” [Laughs] So that was definitely a learning experience. It’s a great film, a family film, and people will definitely learn from this movie. [My character] was a young girl whose father was very overprotective of her and didn’t allow her to get out and see the world. And when she did, she kind of got in with the wrong crowd, got in an abusive relationship, and she had to grow up really, really fast. She had to learn a lot about herself, learn about worldly things at a very young age. [The movie] is so funny, it’s full of drama, it’ll have you laughing, crying, all of those things. [Writer and director] Stan Foster did an amazing job in creating this movie. It has great music too.
Are you on the soundtrack?
I am, yes!
It sounds like you really got involved in the film.
Yeah, I had an acting coach with me all the time. I had to. I was like, “I’m not going to mock this craft, and I’m not going to take this lightly.” So I definitely studied and figured out how I was going to approach the character, and [my coach] definitely helped with that.
The movie takes place in the South, and you’re from Houston, where you have played Gay Pride festivals. Are attitudes in the South changing toward the LGBT community?
Do I think it’s becoming more accepted? Absolutely. Ab-so-lutely. It’s one of those things that’s like, you know what, you’ve got to let people be who they are. Whether you agree with a lifestyle or not, you have to let that person be who they are. You have to love them for who they are.
I just went to the Latex Ball in New York. Oh, my God! I have never seen so much creativity in one room. So much freedom. That’s what I appreciate about the gay community. You know: Do you and don’t worry about other people and their opinions. It’s so colorful and lively, and everybody’s not sitting around and -- you know when you go to a club and everybody’s sitting around and standing along the walls and people watch? It’s not about that. Everybody [at gay clubs] is ready to let their hair down and have fun and get into it, and that’s about love.
I hadn’t had that much fun in a long time. A lo-o-ong time. I mean, they were givin’ it, Honey! Gi-ving. And I love that. I love it. I can’t stand hateful people. I can’t stand hard-hearted people, and unfortunately there’s a lot of people like that in this world, and it’s got to die. Let it die, let it die, let it die. Let love live.
Gay marriage is the next major American civil rights hurdle. Do you see gay marriage ever being legal in, say, Texas?
You know what? It eventually has to, or people are going to move and go to places where it’s accepted. It’s going to have to happen eventually. I don’t know if it’ll happen tomorrow, but whatever is in God’s will, it will be. Hey, everybody deserves love. Everybody deserves commitment. And why shouldn’t the gay community have that?
Back to your acting, you have been working on another movie ...
With Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl. It’s starring them. I play Katherine’s character’s coworker and best friend. It was a lot of fun. They were great people to work with. I learned so much from watching them. Everybody was so professional and friendly and cool and laid-back, and it wasn’t all crazy. I hate being in situations like -- you know what, OK, it’s not that serious!
One blogger who interviewed you gave you a hard time for saying that blogs can be unreasonably cruel to celebrities. Katherine Heigl has really been a target of a lot of celebrity bloggers.
You know, with the interview that I did with the blog, it was one of those things like ...you know, let’s cut out the negativity. It’s just like the question you asked about the gay community. Just let people live. Like what if she was having a bad day one day, you know? What if ... all these different things are going on with her that she couldn’t cover, she couldn’t act for that moment? She was great to work with. I had fun. She didn’t know me from anybody. And when I walked in that makeup trailer at 7 o'clock in the morning, she was in good spirits. She was cool with me.
You have this totally positive and upbeat vibe. How do you manage all the things you work on -- the acting, the music, and you even own and operate a couple of boutiques in Houston -- and keep such a positive attitude?
How? Lord, no sleep, that’s what it’s called. [Laughs] I have an amazing family. My mother runs my two boutiques in Houston and I’m very, very hands-on with it.
Being able to act and also have a music career -- it’s all about timing. You can’t always get in, and when you do get in, you can’t sit down. You sit down as much as you can, but you don’t sleep on opportunity. I’m doing what I love to do and I’m living out my dream. And I don’t take it for granted.
So what’s your next big goal?
Oo-oo-ooh! I want more movies, I want more movies. I definitely want to do a foundation for young girls to empower them and ... I love going across the country on promotional tours and things like that. I make time to go to middle schools and high schools and find out what’s going on inside their minds. Things have changed and the world has changed, so I want to start a foundation, starting off in my hometown, to help young girls fulfill their dreams and not allowing society and this world, the crazy world, from holding them back from what they want to do.
“She Ain’t Got ... ” was written by Chris Brown. Did you work with him before or after the Rihanna incident?
What would you say to a young girl who asked you about Brown?
It’s one of those things where, if you’re in an abusive relationship or things just go bad like that, you have to use your better judgment. First of all, realizing red flags. When they’re red flags, they’re not yellow and they’re not green: a red flag is a red flag. And once you see those signs, you’ve got to pay attention. I have a lot of girls who I speak to that are with guys who are verbally abusive and they think that’s a sign of love. Or when they hit them, “Oh, that’s a sign of love and affection.” No it’s not! That’s not love. That’s not cute. And if somebody is always continuing to bring you down, that’s not the point. The person that is with you should always be bringing love.
With [Chris Brown and Rihanna’s] situation, I don’t know. I wasn’t in the car. I wasn’t nowhere near that street on that day. The Chris Brown, the person that I met, was very sweet, very kind, a professional. Even seeing them together, he was very respectful of her. He was very, very, very respectful around her, you know what I mean? So when everything happened, it was surprising to me, because I didn’t see that. But once again, I don’t know.
I hope that he seeks counseling, gets help, learns from this, and that this is something that he will never do again. I think he can come down from the cross now. Everybody has been throwing stones, stones, stones, stones, and it’s somewhere where that was a serious mistake that was made, but you’ve got to let him grow up and get past it. You’ve got to let him get out of that.
And I’m not saying it’s something that should happen tomorrow, but it’s something that happened. Things happen, and as long as he learns from it, that’s all that we can ask him to do. Who are we to judge?