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Throughout her career, Ashanti has climbed the hierarchy of R&B royalty. When she emerged in 2002, she was crowned the princess of Murder Inc. Two decades later, she is one of the queens that still reign supreme. She achieved a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this year. The “Rain On Me” singer was also crowned Soul Train’s Lady Of Soul last year. She was recently honored at Essence‘s Black Excellence luncheon in New Orleans where she received the Icon Award. It’s safe to say Ashanti has been getting her flowers while she can still smell them.

When MADAMENOIRE caught up with the Glen Cove native, she said being deemed an icon has been “humbling for her.”

“That’s one thing that I’m glad [I was able to do] as a Black female…just sustaining through this very male dominated industry,” she said. “Just to motivate and inspire women to keep going… because sometimes we do get discouraged.”

Now Ashanti is writing more than songs. The 41-year-old beauty has authored her first children’s book, My Name Is A Story. The book follows little Ashanti as she learns to embrace her unique name. When she was a child, many couldn’t see the beauty in her name and clowned her about it. Besides that, people would often say her name wrong, calling her A-shan-tay or A-shan-tie.  It still happens today, but not in the U.S.

“Usually outside of the country, sometimes it’s a little [difficult].”

At one point during her childhood, she told her mother to only call her Tippy.

“My mom told me that when I was younger, I had like a little alter ego and I changed my name to Tippy,” she said. “She said that I would not answer to my name. I don’t know if I was like four or five or whatever. And she was like you would not answer to anything but to Tippy.”

To go from writing Grammy-winning and nominated songs to children’s book was an easy transition for her. While writing My Name Is A Story, she was able to have visuals to match what she was writing, a big difference from writing songs.

“I’m a writer that writes from a real place, you know, in real life experiences,” she said. “So that kind of coincides. Writing records to music and being in a studio has a different vibe, you know what I mean? Conceptually, coming up with a concept [for a song, I’m trying to make you] see the vision. When you have a book, you can see the vision. As a writer,  [when I am] writing records, [I] want people to see what [I’m] saying. So I guess it’s a little bit easier.”

Ashanti also has a new movie in the works called The Plus One. For her latest flick, she was working in front of the camera as well as behind the scenes.

“We were on the beach. The downside was that some of the days it was actually really cold in the morning. It was beautiful. It’s called The Plus One.  I’m executive producing it with  Cedric the Entertainer, who plays my dad. And it’s a rom com. It’s actually hilarious.”

Ashanti has also had roles in Coach Carter, John Tucker Must Die, Resident Evil; Extinction, Army Wives, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and more.

To celebrate 20 years in the music industry, Ashanti performed for HelloBeautiful’s Interludes Live in Atlanta.

“It was such an amazing experience just celebrating 20 years,” she said.  “Vibing with the people is intimate. We got the band. So it’s just a vibe and about celebrating. I feel like it’s about celebrating Black excellence and just being successful and getting love and giving love.”

HelloBeautiful’s Interludes Live will air Sunday, July 17 at 9p/8C on TV ONE.

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