Fifteen-year-old Kiana Brown of Phoenix sings and dances, wants to do commercials and movies and is absolutely sure she wants to be famous. She won the Kidz Bop 2011 Kidz Star USA Talent Search in October and as part of the grand prize RCA released her single, “Hey Chica,” last week. She sang the song “Do the Mermaid” for the “Barbie in a Mermaid Tale II” DVD, so some fame already has found her.
Brown will go on tour with the Kidz Bop “It’s All About Music Tour” with Ethan Bortnick from July 27 to Sept. 2. The tour will stop in Phoenix Aug. 11.
She says fame is the only thing she has ever wanted. “Being famous has always been my goal in life and I just don’t know what I would do without that passion and that drive because it drives me to do all the things I do.”
But what about the loss of privacy and the constant media attention that comes with fame? Brown is aware of the pitfalls of stardom and how every step and misstep is gleefully chronicled in the media.
“That’s OK, I think it’ll be cool. I know a lot of stars lose interest in their fans and their just fans want to know everything about their life, but I think that would be really cool, like, having people look up to you and look at every big decision that you make. My drive for being famous has helped me make really good decisions in the past.” Brown says knowing millions of people will see her as a role model keeps her on track to keep making the right decisions.
Brown’s room is covered with pictures of her favorite stars, like Justin Bieber, the cast of “Glee” and Belle from “Beauty and the Beast.” She was in “Hair Spray” at Mountain Pointe High School in the Tempe Union High School District, where she will be a sophomore next year. She’s performed in “Willy Wonka” at Valley Youth Theatre and the Kidz Bop tour is geared at younger kids, so it doesn’t appear she’s trying to grow up too soon.
Brown’s show business role models include Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez. “They are still really, really good role models for the people they are singing to, and they are allowed to grow out of that little-kid image but still stick to the innocence,” she says. She pays attention to the business she is getting involved in. “Observing and learning — that’s the best part,” she adds confidently.
Her mother, Shakira Matherly, says, “Her personality really is an uplifting one and people like to be around her.” She adds that Kiana has always been bubbly and often is described that way.
But what about the price of fame? “I’d love her not to be [famous], and be my little girl and have that normal life, [but] it’s really a part of her,” Matherly says. So far, she says, Kiana has made good decisions and knows her boundaries, so she has her mother’s complete support. And they do talk about the future and the different situations she’ll face and how to deal with them.
When Brown talks about fame, she never mentions the glamorous lifestyle or wealth that comes with it. Instead, talks enthusiastically about her adventure in New York City, when she was in the final four for the Kidz Bop Talent Search, where she got to sing, who she met and how nice everyone was.
When I spoke to Kiana she was a few days away from shooting a video for “Hey Chica” at a sprawling estate in Paradise Valley, far from her modest home at the base of South Mountain in Phoenix.
She never mentions things she wants to buy. What she wants is to sing and dance, branch out into acting and go to college. “It’s going to be a priority,” she says. “I’d like to go to Oxford in England or The Brit School (the London School for Performing Arts & Technology), where Adele went.”
Is there anything she doesn’t want to do? “No. I super duper want to do it all.” See? Bubbly.