NEW YORK – Although Fantasia has garnered her share of sympathy, there are skeptics who are suspicious about the timing of her latest drama.
Two weeks ago, after being named as the other woman in a bitter divorce case, the former “American Idol” champ took a mixture of aspirin and sleeping pills. She was hospitalized for three days.
Since then, she has confessed in a “Behind the Music” special to a suicide attempt, taped new footage for her VH1 reality show and tearfully talked about her tribulations on ABC’s “Good Morning America” — all while promoting her third album, “Back to Me,” which was released this week.
Her manager, Brian Dickens, said there was no talk of delaying the album — the only question was whether Fantasia would be up to promoting it — “was she able to handle it.”
“Things that have been misconstrued in the media is that this was a publicity stunt, and that is in no way shape or form true,” Dickens said.
Once she decided to push forward, the 26-year-old singer continued with plans to publicize the album.
She shrugs in frustration at the suggestion that the attempted suicide was a publicity stunt. She’s been criticized before, but it still gets her down.
“I didn’t need any more press or publicity. It was already going on; I wanted to be away from the press and publicity. I was sick and tired of it,” she said as she curled up in bed, wearing a low-cut purple gown, at her hotel room Monday afternoon.
“If that was the case, there could have been other things that were done for some publicity. I feel like it (is) all nonsense,” she said. “All I can do now is move forward. I’m ready to get back on the road. … We worked so hard on this album. I just want to focus on that, and my girl, my 9-year-old daughter.”
She hasn’t told her daughter, Zion, about the suicide attempt; she was told her mother was on tour.
Fantasia’s complicated life has always been part of her persona, going back to when she became a star in 2004 as an “American Idol” winner who was a high-school dropout and the unmarried mother of a young child.
“There will be something else to happen; there will be something else to come my way, I know it,” she said. “I’m just that artist I feel like will always be going through something.”
Fantasia has had plenty of turmoil to match her career milestones.
She’s had hit songs, a platinum album and Grammy nominations, and she starred on Broadway in Oprah Winfrey’s “The Color Purple.” She’s also battled bad publicity, endured financial woes — she almost lost her North Carolina home — and had questionable absences from “The Color Purple.”
Her VH1 reality show, “Fantasia for Real,” which debuted this year, documented her attempt to recharge her career after a disappointing second album while taking care of her sometimes dysfunctional extended family. A new season begins Sept. 21.
“She’s got a very much kind of ‘Behind the Music’ kind of story, a lot of ups and downs in her life,” said Rick Krim, VH1’s executive vice president of music and talent relations.
But the worst was yet to come. Earlier this month, Fantasia was named in court papers filed in North Carolina by Paula Cook, who accused her husband, Antwaun Cook, of having an affair with the singer.
The accusations made headlines, and sent Fantasia over the edge.
“My name was being bashed, what I worked so hard for, again, it seems like it was all going down the drain,” she said. Fantasia insists she didn’t start dating Cook until after he separated from his wife, and says they are no longer together.
Dickens said the accusations were a “contributing factor to pre-existing weight: the lawsuit, the media business, family, a combination of all of this.”
Besides the emotional damage she endured, Fantasia damaged her kidneys, and needs doctor visits to make sure she’s OK.
Fantasia says she’s been enduring pain for years, from family struggles to barbs about her image, but put on a happy face for the public: “I’ve been carrying so much for so long for six years, and it just became an overload, and it gets to a point where nobody will understand.”
She said a life coach has helped her realize that masking her problems while trying to please and take care of everyone else in her life has to end.
“I have to please myself. What does ‘Tasia want to do when she wake up in the morning? … I have to learn how to say `no,'” she said.
Krim said while he doesn’t believe her suicide attempt was “part of the marketing plan” for her new album, he hopes the attention will rekindle interest in Fantasia’s talent, and her career.
“I think now hopefully people will be rooting for her,” he said. “This is just another chapter in her up-and-down life.”
Though Fantasia knows her problems are far from over, she insists that she’ll never again try to take her own life.
“I won’t get back to that place anymore because, again, I really don’t care anymore about what people have to say,” she said. “It ain’t nothing that can stop me now. Why? Because from this day forward, I will do what makes ‘Tasia happy.”
VH1 is a unit of Viacom Inc.