My Celebrity Life

Ex Sugababes singer Jade Ewen drawn to ‘intimidating’ Mariah Carey role in Luis Miguel season 3 over their mixed race heritage

Most of us can only dream of what it’s like to walk in Mariah Carey’s shoes but for Jade Ewen, it has become a reality. 

The former Sugababes star is currently playing the We Belong Together singer in season 3 of Netflix series Luis Miguel, which was released today.

It dramatises the life story of Mexican superstar singer Luis, who dated Mariah in the 1990s. Mariah’s character makes her debut in the new series with Jade doing the honours of portraying the music icon.

It’s the role of a lifetime not only because Jade is personally a huge fan of Mariah, but also because the powerhouse singer is one of the stars she can relate to the most with them both being mixed race women.

‘No pressure,’ Jade laughed while chatting to about her coveted role.

‘[It was] initially quite an intimidating prospect and also because as a fan of hers, I think everyone would feel super protective over whoever plays her and how she’s portrayed so it’s a big challenge. That being said, there’s so much in my life that synchronistically has tied this whole thing together. In a weird way I didn’t realise it but I think I’ve been preparing for this thing my whole entire life.’

Jade was perhaps always destined for the role as her first CD was Mariah’s album Daydream, while she had to audition singing her favourite Mariah song, the sultry guitar-led ballad My All.

My Celebrity Life –
Mariah’s character is introduced in season 3 of Luis Miguel (Picture: Netflix)

She continued: ‘We have an idea of who we think [Mariah] is as an icon and artist but when you delve into her personal life and read her biography, I was like, wow! I so relate to her experiences of being a mixed race woman and having challenges growing up and her childhood, how difficult her experiences have been in the music industry.’

Being a woman of colour in music

Jade, 33, went on to explain how she’s been ‘embraced in the acting world’ but it’s a different story when it comes to music.

‘Certainly my experience in the music industry is that people have in the past needed to pigeon-hole you,’ she said. ‘I don’t know if that’s specifically about race but it has always been like, I did the Eurovision so that’s what I am, and I did the Sugababes so that’s what I am.

‘I think that’s part of the conversation of when you’re mixed race, you’re not one thing or the other. It’s that bit where the two intersect that I think people are still trying to get their heads around.’

She added: ‘You can be multi-faceted or you can have two cultural backgrounds or more… I just totally related to what she’s talking about. There was such a big discussion about [Mariah’s] hair in her biography and I’ve had similar experiences with my own, my hair’s naturally curly and I remember being in the music industry being like you always have to wear your hair straight.

‘I’m really pleased about [the conversations regarding race] to be honest.’

Mariah and Luis’ surprise romance

The Netflix series will explore the romance between Luis and Mariah, one that surprised even Jade as her on-screen alter-ego’s most well known relationships being her marriages to Tommy Mottola and Nick Cannon.

‘Luis and Mariah were together for four years but through the process of learning about them, it was a really passionate relationship,’ Jade explained.

‘It becomes a real clash of the titans with the egos and all the other things that come with a power dynamic when you have two superstars.

‘They both parted ways quite painfully so I don’t think it’s something they ever wanted to discuss.’

Jade has stressed that her performance is not a direct ‘imitation or impression of Mariah’ but more an ‘interpretation’. This allowed the actress a ‘nice freedom’ to present Mariah in the way she felt most comfortable.

My Celebrity Life –
Jade was surprised to learn about Mariah’s four-year relationship with Mexican singer Luis (Picture: Netflix)
My Celebrity Life –
Jade doesn’t sing any original Mariah songs on the show but auditioned with the singer’s ballad My All (Picture: Netflix)

Naturally, playing one of the world’s biggest superstars will open Jade up to scrutiny but she’s not worried about any naysayers.

She admitted: ‘I’ve come to a real sense of freedom about that, when I was first thrust into the public eye, it was such a baptism of fire being that people have so many opinions about me as such a young person, I was 21.

‘Of course being in the Sugababes I had experience of coming into an established brand where they already had loyal fans and their existing fans are going to be quite opinionated so I feel like I’ve already dealt with that, and I’ve come to a place with it where I’m really proud of the work I have done.

‘I know as a fan I’ve treated it with a lot of love and respect and I have a complete piece of my mind that the performance isn’t meant to be a direct imitation of her so I’m not concerned. I think it’s pretty apparent, I don’t look like Mariah per say.

‘It’s not a biopic of Mariah, it’s an interpretation of her.’

Life in the Sugababes

Of course, Jade is perhaps best known for appearing in one of the many incarnations of pop group Sugababes from 2009 until 2013. She ‘replaced’ original member Keisha Buchanan sparking controversy at the time.

Reflecting on her time in the girl group, Jade said: ‘It was definitely a whirlwind and it all happened so quickly and things weren’t really discussed with regards to who I was replacing and I hadn’t even said I definitely am going to be in the Sugababes. It was meant to be a discussion.

‘I didn’t get a chance to process anything because I was in the spotlight. As time’s gone on I’ve had more time to work through what that experience was but it was good for me, it was a learning curve. I got to understand what it was to be on the other side of a record deal… I’d never been on tour, I never really got to shoot music videos and albums back to back so it served me for life experience.’

She added: ‘There was some pressure for sure because they had several albums and I had to learn them in such a short space of time… There was this weird period of transition where I very much felt like I was a deer in headlights.’

Jade admitted that stepping in after Keisha left the group ‘came with challenges’ but she understood from the fans’ perspective why they’d feel ‘protective’, considering Keisha was an OG member. However, there was never any bad blood between the two as Jade met Keisha and thought she was ‘lovely’.

The theatre star continued: ‘There was some navigating in dealing with fans because that’s when social media and Twitter was becoming quite prevalent so fans can have direct access to you and send tweets.

‘It was quite a lot to deal with this stuff for the first time so I found it challenging. But to be honest my life has been full of obstacles to overcome, I’ve never had it easy or smooth sailing and I always pride myself on the fact that, yeah I’ve found things difficult, stay resilient, keep going and overcome those challenges.’

When asked if she’s still in contact with other members of the group, Jade said: ‘I only ever met Heidi, Amelle and Keisha, I met Keisha once so I don’t even have a number for [her]. Heidi came to see Aladdin a couple of years ago and I’ve spoken on and off to Amelle but we don’t see each other very often.’

In the present, Jade couldn’t be more proud about her stint playing Mariah and shared the biggest lesson she’s learned about the diva through the role.

‘Mariah is an extremely intelligent and vulnerable woman and I think that the perception of her is that she’s a diva vocalist but actually she has so much more depth,’ Jade said. ‘She’s so resilient, I really came to realise how much she’s had to overcome in her life and her voice has really been the thing that saved her.’

Luis Miguel season 3 is available to watch on Netflix now.


Credit: Original article published here.

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