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Kidsday interviews singer Ne-Yo

Singer Ne-Yo who stars as Andrew

Singer Ne-Yo who stars as Andrew "Smoky" Salem in the movie "Red Tails" with Kidsday reporters Ismail Lewis, Trevor Forte Da Jah Tomlin and Omar Headley, all from Wyandanch at the London Hotel in Manhattan. Jan. 8, 2012. Credit: Newsday/Pat Mullooly

We interviewed singer Ne-Yo when he was in Manhattan recently.

What is it like to be famous?

Just like anything else. It definitely has its pros and its cons. It's a beautiful thing for me to be able to do what I love. I do what I love, and I can provide for my family doing it. There's not a lot of people on the face of the planet that say they love their job. Fame, on the other hand, has its drawbacks. There's not a whole lot of privacy with fame. There are days where you don't feel like getting up out of bed, but you have to. Get asked the same seven questions all day long, and it can get a little nerve-racking, but at the end of the day, I love what I do.


What led you to become a singer?

My love for music. My mom said I was singing before I was talking. My mom sings, my dad sings, a bunch of my uncles sing, and aunts. It's just been a part of my family for as long as I could remember. Once I learned that I could make a living doing it -- and plus get the attention of girls -- that's when it became real for me.


What is your favorite place to perform?

Good question. Probably Japan. It's real, real fun to perform in Japan because I feel like in Japan they still really and truly appreciate the hard work that goes into performing to the point of being fanatic. They go insane over there, but at the same time they're very respectable.

Is winning awards important to you?

Not really. One thing that you learn about this business early on -- and I had to learn it the hard way -- is there's a lot of smoke and mirrors involved in a lot of elements of this business. The thing that means something to me is what my fans think of my music. I had a guy walk up to me and tell me that he proposed to his wife of four years through one of my songs. That's better than any award that anybody can ever give me. I've had people tell me that there are songs of mine that stopped them from committing suicide, just all kinds of stuff. If my music is touching your heart, there is no award on the planet to top that.


Do you like your career?

I love my career. And it's like a roller coaster. It has its ups and has its downs, but it's fun for the most part.


We know that you act, sing and produce music. What do you like the best?

Probably the production of music. I'm still learning as a singer. There are still things that I wish I could do with my voice that I just can't. Not to say I can't learn, but I'm not there yet. I'm still very, very new with the acting thing, so I have a lot to learn there. The creative process has always been the most fun for me. I started out as a writer. So that's always been my first love.


You seem to be interested in fashion. Who is your favorite designer? I don't have just one. There's a few. Tom Ford, Paul Smith, Gucci suits. This actually is Gucci here. One of the few suits that I could just grab off the rack and put it on. I don't got to get it tailored or nothing. Francis Ellargo, which is a new line. Be looking out for that really soon. It's just hats right now. Saks Fifth Avenue, check it out. Those are my hats.


Why do you always wear hats?

I started wearing hats in high school. I was the only kid in high school that was allowed to wear my hat because they always saw me and they said, "Ah, it's just him, whatever." Initially I started wearing hats because the men in my family started losing their hair very, very soon. Like my hair started falling out at 14. And I don't gotta tell you that high school kids could be real mean. So initially that's why I started wearing hats. But then after a while I just really didn't care what anybody said, but the hat kind of became a part of me. I didn't feel like me if I didn't have a hat on. So I just carried that on into this.


If you could perform with anyone, who would you perform with?

Michael Jackson. May he rest in peace. If I could get on stage with Michael Jackson, I would.

Do you ever Google your name and see what they write about you?

Nah. The sad reality of the business today there are people that are paid to hate. They are paid to hate all day long. This is how they make their living. So I just focus on giving them more things to hate on.


Do you like making music videos?

Music videos are more fun to make than movies. Movies take a whole lot of time. We shot [the movie "Red Tails"] for four months straight 21/2 years ago. Where a music video might take you a day, maybe two days. And in about a month or so later you see the end results. Yeah, I did music videos especially the whole process of taking something that has no visual and creating a visual for it. That's a lot of fun.


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