K. Michelle took over the small screen last night (Aug. 19), bringing her musical passions to Rebellious Soul on VH1. Inspired by the album of the same name, the Idris Elba-directed musical delves into the love and heartache behind K’s most beloved tracks. Before the musical’s premiere, the singer and reality star spoke to VIBE about her journey to the stage, her next album and why we’ll be seeing a whole lot more of her on TV. —Sowmya Krishnamurthy
VIBE: What inspired you to do a musical?
K. Michelle: I was so bored with R&B in its state right now. A lot of people know me from reality [TV] but they don’t know my musical background in theatre, playing the guitar. People don’t know certain things like that about me. I wanted to do something super creative and something really unique. Me and another writer named Blush took all the songs on the album and turned it into a conversation.
How did Idris Elba get involved?
We’re really good friends. I was telling him what we were gonna do and he was like, “I’m in. I’m gonna do it with you.” I thought he was joking but he was on it the next day. He was supportive. He fought with me for everything we needed. He called in favors. The way it’s shot is so beautiful. The texture on it is so amazing. I’m so grateful to him for going out of his way for me.
How is he as a director?
He’s amazing. He’s a DJ as well. He knows my music and that’s how we became friends, actually. Working with him was comforting for me because he knows my personality. How to get me in the zone. He’s so professional and very in-tuned with everything around him. That’s what I feel makes a really great director.
He’s easy on the eyes too.
[Laughs]. He’s just Idris.
How do work with such a fine friend? I would just hit on him.
I don’t know. He’s eye candy but he’s not my type. He’s handsome. He’s a friend. You can be around somebody so much that when girls are screaming you’re like, “Oh. That’s just him.”
You mentioned you have stage training. When did that happen?
In high school. I went to performing arts high school and it was a lot of musicals and things like that. Every period for me was really like Fame. I was in show choir, concert choir and advanced dance. I got a scholarship to Florida A&M for yodeling.
I know that R. Kelly’s "Trapped in the Closet" helped inspire Rebellious Soul. What’s your favorite chapter?
I liked the beginning chapters. After a while he lost me and I was confused. Yeah. I couldn’t still sit that long. That was another thing. Knowing that I love "Trapped in the Closet" and it got too long with the same music. R. Kelly was my mentor so we really talked about that. He was using the same track for every chapter and I wanted to do something different.
How did you cast the supporting actors?
I know I did not want well-known actors in it because I didn’t want the focus to be on who but what. We weren’t gonna cast at all because Idris wanted me to play on the characters but I had so much going on at that time. I wanted to focus on this character. Then we started to cast and I would say, “Yay” or “Nay.”
You’ve done a musical and have another reality show on VH1 this November. What’s next?
Definitely a sitcom for me. That’s my biggest thing. Comedy. My love life is so funny. We don’t really have stories, not too heavy. I just remember I met Jamie Foxx. I had no idea that he knew who I was. I was just on a reality show and he said, “You are the funniest woman.” He said, “You have to get out of reality and go to scripted.” Him and Mona [Scott] met up about my sitcom. I don’t know how we’re gonna do it. I’m sure we’ll announce it really soon. I have a network interested. I’m gonna pull it off. Believe me.
Are you still working on music?
Basically, my album is done. Yeah. I’m very proud of that. Now I can go on back to my acting classes and really, really get ready for what I want to do. We have the release date. I’ve been teasing it. It’s very soon. It will be this year. We’ll be dropping a single in the next three weeks.