The Real Amber Rose
We get personal with the mysterious bisexual bombshell.
Photo: Ashley Nguyen
If you’ve read about her in the tabloids, you don’t know Amber Rose. She’s been painted as the bad girl, the seductress, as fame hungry and sexually promiscuous. But the real Rose, behind all the headlines, couldn’t be further from any of those things.
Rose grew up in the mean streets of Philly, raised by a single mother, and as a self-identified loner Rose turned to exotic dancing as a means to survive. But a chance encounter with a casting agent in New York who, struck by Rose’s natural beauty, plucked the dancer turned model—and soon to be actor—from obscurity, and cast her in a music video, quickly led to a whirlwind of paparazzi, photo shoots around the globe, publicly scrutinized romances with celebs (both men and women), magazine covers and even her own rumored series on VH1.
However, despite all the attention, the soft-spoken, funny and disarmingly candid Rose remains down to earth, speaking affectionately of barbeques with friends, nights out on the dance floor and her dorky preteen years. So, forget what you heard because it’s time for the real Amber Rose to please stand up.
What was growing up in Philly like for you?
I grew up with a single mom. She was a waitress. We were really, really, really, really poor. I’ve always been different. My friends’ parents used to call me the weird girl from around the corner. I’ve just always been unique and I had good times when I was young but I got made fun of a lot because I couldn’t really afford nice clothes. I would wear my cousins’ hand me downs. But all in all I had a good childhood.
What were your aspirations? Did you want to be a celebrity?
My mom, she always had celebrity magazines in the house…so I grew up reading those magazines and I’d always tell my mom that I’d never ever want to be famous. I’d rather just win the lottery and nobody knows my name. So, maybe that’s why God gave it to me.
Tell me a little bit about your journey to stardom.
I got discovered in New York by this lady that worked for Def Jam. She approached me and said I was really beautiful and she asked me if I wanted to do music videos. She was like, There’s a music video tomorrow. You fly to Miami and they’ll pay you and you don’t have to worry about anything. I was like, Look, I can’t afford to just jump on an airplane and just leave, I have to go to work. She was like, no, it’s all expenses paid, you don’t have to worry about anything, and you get a check on top of it. So I was like, Wow, that’s kind of cool, OK! [Laughs] So I started doing music videos.
I got signed to Ford Models and then all of a sudden I was in different countries and people would ask me to take pictures with them. And I was like, Wow, you really know who I am? Is this even real? I don’t understand. I didn’t understand it, it just happened so fast.
Was it hard for you to adjust to the instant fame?
People don’t understand that it’s like being a millionaire and losing it all the next day. It was the same thing for me, I was brought into a whole other world that I didn’t understand. I was totally out of my element and it was a huge blow when I went from nothing to everything overnight. It shocked me and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I still wanted to just be Amber from Philly and have barbeques with my friends. It just wasn’t the same. [But] I thank God for it, you know?
What has your biggest life lesson been, so far?
I’m really nice and really compassionate and like to talk to people but in this business people take that and they run with it and they take advantage of you. So I realized that especially if I’m going to be in this industry that I really can’t be nice to everyone. And that’s kind of sad, but I can’t.
What’s the hardest part of being in the public eye?
When you become a celebrity, you can’t fully be yourself. When you are yourself, you have to deal with a lot of scrutiny. A lot of rumors. If you’re just being nice and someone asks you for a picture and someone takes a picture, the next day on the Internet they’re going to associate you with that person and say that you’re dating. When you go out to a club with your friends you want to go on the dance floor and you want to have fun. You want to drink and maybe one night you want to get really wasted and just have fun with your friends, but those days are over.
What inspired your signature short haircut?
When I was little, I was in love with the Sinead O’Connor video, “Nothing Compares to You.” So I was like, when I get old enough I’m going to cut my hair like that. When the time finally came and I was ready to do it, I asked all my friends and they were like, you’re going to look so stupid, Amber, don’t you dare do that. I was like, No, I really, really want to do it, you guys don’t understand. So I did it. I went to the barbershop… I cut it off and I went home and I cried my eyes out for like a week. My hair’s naturally really dark, so I thought maybe if I dye it blonde it’ll soften it up. I’ve had it that way over seven years now.
Credit: Adam Bouska
Why did you get involved with the NOH8 campaign?
I’ve always been the type of person who’s non-judgmental. I always picked up for the gay kids in school. When I got into high school I wasn’t really the dork anymore, I got kind of popular. But I used to be a dork so when I’d see kids making fun of gay kids or nerds or kids that were overweight I just kind of stepped in. I just feel like you can love anyone. It’s not against God. I think that God makes all of us individuals and he makes us who we are and I just believe that love is love, you know?
When did you come out as bisexual?
I’ve always been attracted to girls ever since I was little, and I like boys too. But as I got older in my teenage years a lot of the, you know, “freaky girls” who were doing all kind of nasty stuff would say they were bisexual so I never wanted to, because I wasn’t into those things.
It was a weird moment in my life when I didn’t know how to like explain to myself I wasn’t gay, but I wasn’t straight and I just wasn’t like some freak—that you know was just having threesomes all day [Laughs]. For me, if I was in a relationship with a woman then I was just with her and vice versa.
When I had my first girlfriend—me and my mom are best friends— I just told her and my mom was like, “Whatever makes you happy girl. Whatever you like, that’s your business, I don’t care.” It was really easy for me.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?
Because I was a stripper at 15 years old, I think a lot of people look at that and they think I was a prostitute and I was a whore and I did dirty things for money. When really, I was very young and I did what I had to, to survive at that time. It’s not like I was a little girl thinking like, Oh when I grow up I want to be a stripper! And I want everyone to treat me like shit. It definitely wasn’t like that for me. It was a survival tactic.
In the urban community [especially] they really, really put me down. This one time I was Milan and I’m literally around multi-millionaires and billionaires at this dinner and Dita Von Teese gets on stage and she gets buck naked and she spins around in a big martini glass and everyone clapped for her. And it’s bullshit. It’s not fair that it’s OK for her to do it because she doing it for rich white people but you know I was in like, the hood, and I did what I had to do to survive… and I constantly get ridiculed.
Are there any causes that are important to you?
Yes definitely: HIV/AIDS. I lost four friends in 2009. I used to be in the gay ballroom scene and so I had a lot of like gay, lesbian and transgender friends and it really sucked.
What’s next for you?
I just got a movie role! I can’t really explain much about it but I’m really, really excited. I went on my first audition, ever. And I got the part, which was really awesome. (amber-rose.org)