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Fantasia looks to rebuild with reality show

Published:Saturday | January 16, 2010 | 12:00 AM

NEW YORK (AP):Her career is only six years old, but Fantasia is already in need of a comeback.

The former American Idol champ has endured tough times of late. Her last album, the 2006 self-titled Fantasia, didn't have the success of her platinum debut, 2004's Free Yourself. And while she got rave reviews for her performance as Celie on Broadway in The Color Purple in 2007, during her time away from home, she got entangled in legal woes that almost cost her her North Carolina residence.

"They put my home up for auction, which had to be the most embarrassing thing ever, because you have people now ringing your doorbell and wanting to come to the house and see it," Fantasia says softly.

But the 25-year-old says she's ready to "rebuild my dynasty" - and she's taking fans along for the ride. This week, she debuted her new VH1 reality show, Fantasia For Real, which documents the singer as she records a comeback album. Being a reality show, it also features a lot of drama surrounding her family, for which she is the sole support.

In a recent interview, Fantasia talked about her family issues, plotting her return to the top and why she's paying more attention to business these days.

You talk of rebuilding your dynasty. When do you feel like you lost it? Was it because you took time off to do 'The Color Purple'?

Not at all. When I say different things going down hill, I mean by management, accountants, lawyers - nobody taking care of what needed to be taken care of on the back end. I enjoyed playing (in) The Color Purple. I think it could have been a lot easier if I had better people on the team.

How are you now - are you OK money-wise?

(The house problem) wasn't a foreclosure, and it wasn't that I didn't have the money. I'm not the richest, but I've always been a hard worker ... and I thank God I'm still able to make ends meet. It could have been a lot better for me though if I would have had better management and better accountants. When I first won, I was naïve, very naïve, and green and fresh to the game, and I think sometimes when people realise that, you can be taken advantage of. The whole time most of them did not have my back. They ended up not paying my taxes and I had to clean up all that stuff. I had to hustle and bustle and make sure that was taken care of.

What did all that teach you?

Ah man. It taught me one, that you can't trust everybody. I have to be hands on with everything.

Do you resent taking care of your family?

No. I do resent the fact that I kept ... I enabled them. I kept giving, giving, giving and when you do that, you enable people, you spoil them. My dream has always been to take care of my family, especially my mother. My mother doesn't ever have to do anything, because she took very good care of us. ... I said, if I won the idol, I was going to buy a big house and put all of my family in it, and I did that, but what I began to do is just spoil them. I love my family and I will always do for my family, just not like I used to.

What do you feel like you need to do differently with your new album?

I feel like the second album was a great album, it was just rushed. ... It's been three years, and I'm kind of glad that it's been that long. One, I get to see that people have been missing me ... Two, I can go into the studio now and kind of write myself and speak what's on my mind and on my heart and talk about all the things. It's easy to get up and sing a song, but you always have to have a story, you always have to have to relate to somebody, to encourage somebody and I feel that this is a way for me to tell it all.

I know you wanted to get your high school diploma. Where are you on that?

Almost. It's kind of tough because I'm on the road. For me, the teacher has to be somewhere around (laughs). I'm gonna be honest, it's hard, it's hard for me being out here. My teacher has to call me and say, "Don't play. Do that homework because you asked for this. It's something that you wanted. Now, you gotta do your homework." I've been in school for a long time, but I'm almost there.