“Beautiful,” Bullied and “Burlesque” — our interview with Christina Aguilera

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Christina Aguilera has been a longtime advocate for gay

rights and now the LGBT community has another reason to adore her: the pop

songstress will make the transition to outright movie star when she shares the

screen with gay icon Cher in the musical Burlesque. Aguilera, in

her first big-screen role, stars as Ali, a small-town girl with a big voice who

comes to L.A. in search of stardom. And as if starring in her first-ever acting

role wasn’t enough, the singer served as executive music producer and wrote

three original songs for the film, including the title track. Aguilera,

accompanied by her Papillon, Stinky, discussed working with Cher, why she’s

been an advocate for the gay community and all things Burlesque

during the film’s recent press junket.

AfterEllen.com:

"Beautiful" came out eight years ago and was so inclusive of the gay

community. Now we’re seeing other artists — like Pink, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry,

follow suit. You were so ahead of the curve. And you’ve always been so

supportive of the LGBT community. Could you speak on that?

Christina Aguilera:
I have my own

issues with feeling alienated for my own reasons. As a kid and feeling a little

bullied and like an oddball at times. When people aren’t being heard or seen or

aren’t being treated fairly or equally because of their own individual choices

or who they are, I really stick up for that. It means a lot to me to put it out

there, in my video for "Beautiful," for example. I’m very supportive

of the gay community.

AE: What happened

that you were bullied?

CA:
I grew up in

a very chaotic home, first of all, so I came from a little bit of a troubled

past because there was a lot of domestic violence in the home and then at

school, doing what I did and maybe being a little smaller, I was definitely

picked on and I definitely was bullied for the attention that I got. It was

definitely unwanted attention and there was a lot of unfairness about it. I’m

sensitive to that.

AE: Burlesque is your first feature, are you

ready to give up after this?

CA:
I’m looking

forward to seeing what’s next for me. It could be a small independent (film) —

at first, that was my goal to start out small and not star in a leading

position whatsoever; just be part of a great film and have a couple lines and

get my feet wet. Boy, that didn’t happen! (Laughs.)

AE: Why did you wait

so long to segue into the movie business?

CA:
I know my

comfort zone and I know what my strong points are and my first love was always

music. I’m a huge cinema fan. I was taking my time; I got offered a lot of

scripts and things along the way but until Burlesque

showed up at my doorstep, it really spoke to me. I have a collection of burlesque

books at home that I’ve had for years. I’ve always been intrigued and

fascinated with the topic, the beauty and the art of it and the comedic value

of it. I think it’s just a beautiful, empowering thing for women.

AE: What did you

relate to in your character, Ali? Was it her drive or her journey to L.A.

trying to make it in the business?

CA
: That was

definitely a part of it. I liked her background story; it came from a place of

maybe being inspired by pain — she definitely had her fair share of struggle:

her mother dying when she’s very young, growing up in a lot of foster care

homes and having to grow up quickly taking care of a grandmother. She’s in this

small town being taken advantage of by her boss and finally — a lot of people

talk about their situations and complain but they never do anything about it —

and the thing about Ali that I loved is that she makes the decision to leave

and get out of there and go on her own. That’s really hard. The inspiration of

it all really spoke to me.

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