Former 'American Idol' winner Jordin Sparks poses on the press line at a party honouring Timbaland, sponsored by Verizon Wireless and People magazine in Los Angeles earlier this year.
Last year, Jordin Sparks became the youngest ever person to win American Idol, aged just 17. The Arizona native has finished working on her debut album and her next single features Chris Brown. Now 18, she tells Emmanuel Ezugwu about how she is dealing with fame, her views on Chris Brown and Rihanna's relationship, and why she has never had a boyfriend before.
Voice: It's been almost a year since you won American Idol. How has it been for you?
Jordin Sparks: It's been very exciting, very exhilarating and exhausting, all at the same time. Everything has turned upside down, which is crazy. I haven't been home very much - I think in 2007 I was at home for a total of 12 days! I got a two-week break for Christmas and New Year's and I started it up over again. But I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Voice: You didn't get through the first time you auditioned. What happened?
JS: I went to audition in LA, because it was the closest audition city to Arizona. You have to go through a couple auditions before you get to Randy, Paula and Simon, but I didn't even make it past the first audition in LA! I was told that I was really good and they really liked me, but something was missing. I went back home and did this thing called Arizona Idol, and as a prize I won a trip to the next nearest audition city, and that happened to be Seattle. This time I made it past the other rounds and finally got to the judges. The rest is history.
Voice: Many believed that your fellow contestant, Blake would win American Idol. Did you ever feel like an underdog?
JS: I did at some times. I remember in the beginning, I would sing and it would be good and I would get good reviews, but other people were the front-runners. I felt pretty down, but that made me work harder. Obviously he's a guy and he can beat box and I can't beat box to save my life. I had no idea about how it was going to go.
Voice: Were you disappointed that your album failed to reach the number one spot like the previous American Idol winners?
JS: The industry has changed so much since Kelly Clarkson came out. People were actually buying albums when Kelly Clarkson released her album. I was a little bit disappointed, but at the same time I'm very proud of it. It went gold, so it reached the half-million mark. I'm still new to this and I'm growing, so I have a couple more CDs in me.
Voice: You're dad was a former New York Giants NFL player. Do you think you're more famous then him now?
JS: When I won American Idol he was like "you're more famous then me now. It's OK, I'm just glad it's all on you, and not on me anymore". (laughs)
Voice: You seem to have lost quite a bit of weight since you appeared on American Idol. Do you feel any pressure to lose weight?
JS: There's always been that pressure! It's the same for any girl living in America. There's always been that pressure to be skinny, but when you're in the industry there's even more. Before American Idol started I was working out, but with American Idol it was hard to stay in a routine because you can't go anywhere without security.
Voice: Is it true you wear a purity ring?
JS: Yep! I've got it on my finger right now and it says 'true love waits' written on it. It's just a promise that I made to my parents and myself. It wasn't forced on me, but I remember the 'birds and the bees' talk and they said to me it would be great to wait until I'm married. I would much rather give myself wholly to somebody when I'm married to them instead of giving myself to a whole bunch of different people. Does that make sense?
Voice: Can you still date or is it easier to stay single?
JS: I've never been in a relationship before. It would be cool to have a boyfriend, but I'm not looking. As long as they are respectful and they can deal with what I believe in, then sure!
Voice: Your new video, 'No Air' featuring Chris Brown, is pretty steamy. What was it like working with him?
JS: It was a lot of fun! I've always been a fan of Chris Brown and I remember telling my mom that I was going to do a duet with him one day. The scary thing was it actually happened! When we were standing on the video set doing the song together it actually hit me, and I couldn't believe that I was actually doing it! I didn't know how things were going to be when I got there, because I had never been around Chris Brown for more then five minutes, but he made it very comfortable. It was a lot of fun and he's very funny and very energetic. In some of the serious scenes when I was shooting he would try and make me laugh.
Voice: Are Chris Brown and Rihanna dating?
JS: Yeah, they are. It was really cool because I walked on the set and she was sitting there with Chris Brown and I was like I can't believe she's here. She came and she told me that she loved No Air and that it was one of her favourite songs. It was really cool hearing that from one of my peers. She just wanted to support him.
Voice: Did it feel weird doing intimate scenes with Chris Brown with his girlfriend watching you?
JS: (Laughs) It was hard at first, but then I said, "you know what? I have to work!" It had to look like I was in love with him, so I had to do it. Hopefully, she won't kill me! (Laughs).