Former Fame Academy star Camilla Beeput is certainly a multi-talented performer! Since first being introduced to the British public on the reality TV show, the twenty-year-old from North West London has successfully gone on to have a stint in the theatre, modelled for the well-known sports footwear manufacturer K-Swiss and even featured in episodes of popular TV shows like The Bill and Footballers Wives. Now the official 1st R‘n’B Lady of the multi platinum rap group Dipset is about to launch her debut album entitled "Rise of the Phoenix," which features a collaboration with hip-hop icon Erick Sermon. She’s also currently in rehearsals for the new West End musical "Daddy Cool," directed by Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha. The show’s plot revolves around lovers Rose and Sunny against a backdrop of rival East and West London gangs and the classic 80’s sound of Frank Farian who wrote tracks for Boney M and Milli Vanilli.

What made you get into singing? Well, at first music was a bit of a hobby of mine. I would often listen to my Dad’s records- artists like Gladys Knight and Aretha Franklin. I enjoyed singing and realised I was good at it, so carried it on. I was really shy as a kid, but music and singing really helped me to come out of my shell. I even taught myself to play the guitar and the piano too.
You were one of the twelve contestants in the first series of Fame Academy weren’t you? Can you tell me a bit more about that particular experience?
It was an amazing experience. I was able to sing on a live TV show with people like Lionel Ritchie and Lemar every week. Lionel gave me some great advice and Lemar kept me grounded in the house because I was a bit of an emotional wreck in there. The psychology of it got to me a little bit because I was really young - I was only 16 at the time and was really inexperienced. I couldn’t get in contact with any of my friends or family whilst I was in there. The live singing and the tour afterwards were really fun though. It was a good thing for me to do because it gave me my first experience of the music industry and really good exposure. It got me into the professional world - it got me meetings with managers and producers and enabled me to move into the whole serious game of the music business.
You were going to start drama school before Fame Academy came along weren’t you and were working as a part -time beauty therapist?
Yeah, I had to decide at the time between going to drama school at Ealing Drama studios and Fame Academy. I choose Fame Academy, which ended up being better for me because although I got voted out, I got spotted by a director and ended up being offered the lead part of Maria in West Side story for a theatre production for the Haymarket Theatre in Leicester, which was great.
I believe you’re going to star in the West End musical -Daddy Cool. How are rehearsals going for that?
Rehearsals are going fantastically well. We’re doing full-on choreography. I’m going in for rehearsals at 2.00pm today actually. I’m playing the lead role of Rose for the musical. It’s a lot of work, every day from ten till six most days, even Saturdays but I’m really loving it.

You’re working with people like Ex-EastEnder Michelle Collins, Harvey from the So Solid Crew and Javine aren’t you in the musical?
Yes, I’m working with a great, great bunch of people who are really talented. I’m with people who are more successful than me and more experienced than me. I’m lucky to be involved in something like this musical. I love performing and singing live. Working in a team of people so intensely on something that’s enjoyable is a real buzz. Because Daddy Cool is a brand new show we are helping in the creative process of it. Our ideas are going in there, for instance our harmonies that we think of or some arrangements that I like. The way I like something is how it’s going to be done. We’re creating it as we go along, so it’s pretty cool.

For your album you collaborated with Erick Sermon didn’t you-can you tell me more about that?
Erick is a Grammy award-winning rapper and music producer from New York. He is really a legend in hip-hop and was in a band called EPMD, who were like one of the first big rap groups there. He’s quite a historical hip-hop icon, so it was really cool working with him. He’s got so much respect and so much talent and has worked with people like Mary J Blige, LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes. He loved the tune "Don’t Hold Back" so much when he heard it, that he produced a remix of it for us. He’s got so much charisma. He’s such a great guy, he came over here to do some promotion with us and we stay in touch with each other.

We’ve also got some co-production on my album from Kanye West, Timberland and Dipset producers Tone and Silver; Lil Wayne, Juelz Santana and Young Jeezy.

You’ve just made a music video for the single "Don’t Hold Back" (feat. Erick Sermon) - how did filming for that go?
We spent the whole day in Park Royal film studios. Erick was there for the video shoot. We also had some winners from a competition there who were extras in it. It was good fun although it was a long day and they always end up being a bit stressful these things. It’s good watching the video because you can think all your hard work’s paid off, all the investment, time money and everything. It’s great when it turns out well. We basically directed it ourselves.

What advice would you give to anybody else wanting to be a singer?
My advice would be to sing every day, because it’s the only thing that strengthens your voice. Also get out there, because it’s the only way you’re going to be known and meet people. Because that’s what it’s about, people getting to know you. You’ve also got to have a lot of determination and not be put off because being a singer takes a lot of perseverance and time. Unless you win a reality TV show or whatever, no one is successful overnight.

Who do you like to listen to, when you get the chance?
Earth, Wind and Fire, Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley and Gladys Knight. I also listen to new artists like Beyonce and Alicia Keys. I love soul and loads of stuff from the 70s though.

How would you describe your album in your own words?
I would describe it as fresh, exciting, hard-hitting and soulful.
Is there anybody you’d like to work with if the opportunity arose (both in music and acting)?
I’d like to do something with Emma Thompson. I think she’s amazing, one of our great British actresses. She’s so down to earth and I think I could learn so much from her. I also love Nicholas Cage - I think he’s great. Musically I’d like to do something with James Brown.

I believe you’re currently reading a script for a US movie at the moment - can you tell me more about that?
Yeah, the company that is producing it is an award-winning company called Belladonna Productions, which did the movie Transamerica with Felicity Huffman-the lady from Desperate Housewives. I first met them in Cannes when I was out there last year and then I meet them again in New York as well. Hopefully something more might come of it.
What’s an average day like for you at the moment?
At the moment it’s rehearsals, then the studio at night. Maybe an interview and gig as well. I’m doing a performance at Bar Rumba in Shaftsbury Avenue in London this Friday.

Where would you like to see yourself in another year’s time?
I would just love for my album to do really well, I think, that’s all I would like. Just to get my album out there and for everyone to hear it. I want to get the public’s view - there’s so much politics in the music industry and you’ve got to try to manoeuvre around it. I hate that. Everyone I have played it to really enjoy it. I want it to get its chance. Then hopefully I’d like to start on a second. Music really is a universal language. It’s all about the music - everything else is a bonus.

Camilla’s debut single "Don’t Hold Back (feat. Erick Sermon)" is taken from her album and will be released on 17th July. "Rise of the Phoenix" will be released later this year.

You can also see Camilla playing the lead character of Rose Baker in the musical "Daddy Cool" at the Shaftsbury Theatre when it opens in September.

Rebecca Leach - Femalefirst

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