Keri Hilson has staying power. Whether it be music, TV, or films, one thing you can count on is Hilson showing up armed with talent and beauty to boot. From her arrival on the scene in 2007 via Timabaland's hit, "The Way I Are," Keri has been a fixture in all facets of the industry. Delivering hits behind the scenes as a songwriter, in front of the camera as a globally recognized artist, and, most recently, as a booked and in-demand actress. She truly has a knack for telling stories we all can relate to. What draws fans to Keri after all of this time, perhaps, is that down-to-earth magnetic aura that has not changed with platinum albums or Grammys.
Her undeniable positivity has not been dimmed by rumors or the endless ridicule that came; as a result, it is what keeps us rooting for her. Her recent turn in TV One's Don't Waste Your Pretty, as well as Lifetime's Lust, were a welcome surprise for Keri Hilson fans everywhere. The stunning star has been careful in choosing her projects over the years and talked about her break from music, how she's risen above the noise and why she doesn't find it hard to say no to things that do not serve her.
Iman Milner: Who Is Keri Hilson today?
Keri Hilson: Today, I am a lot of the same but a new and improved, more wise version of myself. More clam and chill. More spiritual. More awake and aware of certain things. I'm more choosy with things I partake in. My tribe is smaller and more trustworthy. I'm a Keri Hilson who loves and accepts herself a lot more than the one you first met.
IM: How did you shed any ideas of who Keri Hilson could be to move into this new chapter of your artistry?
KH: It's important to explore all of your passions and gifts. They're there for a reason. They're not there to be wasted. There's a lot of purpose and destiny tied into the things that you love. Me not wanting to waste my passion or not reach my destiny is what inspired that pivot. It was a natural progression. It wasn't something I felt like I had to chase.
I certainly don't chase anything for a "bag" or attention. Or relevance. I like to operate on this earth very authentically to how I feel, where I am and what I love in every moment. I try to stay malleable and allow God or the Universe to place me where I am supposed to be when I am supposed to be there. I like how that feels a lot more than veering off the path that God has for me. It's been a very welcomed process and result.
IM: On that note, let's talk about your newest project, Lust. What drew you to it?
KH: Honestly, TD Jakes being involved. I'm a huge fan of his. When I was going through a very dark period, he was one of the only places I could find some joy and hope when I needed it. I knew, also, that it would not just be a salacious, steamy piece for the sake of it being that way. I knew there would be a redeeming factor to the story. Those were the biggest reasons I said yes to this role.
IM: You got to work with another master pivot artist in Tank. How was that?
KH: Oh, it was great. I've known the guy for like 20 years. We had a great time. We were bursting out into song in between takes. Scenes that would normally have been a lot more uncomfortable weren't because we have a rapport. We know each other. We've been in rooms for hours, days, and weeks even—so it wasn't as hard as it could have been to perform those lusty scenes with him. He's a good scene partner too. He's always making sure you're comfortable.
IM: So, in Lust, we're dealing with temptations. How do you embrace or avoid temptation in your own life?
KH: Whew. I do a good job of that these days. What I'm after and attracted to is very different now. It's pretty far away from lustful temptation. I live a really calm life. I'm a loner. So I'm not even in certain environments. I stay away from things that are pulling me in a direction that I don't want to go, even in your phone. That's like the club now. Lust is one of those deadly sins that can really get you tripped up. It can really change the course of your love life, your career, your reputation, so many things can be affected by that. Learning how to avoid that successfully is important. I've learned how to temper my appetite for it—it's not hard for me.
IM: You've experienced some things that could take a toll on your mental health. How did you stay in the light during those dark times? How were you able to stay "well?"
KH: My spiritual practices. All of my self-care practices. Reading books, Going to therapy, being in nature, and eating right. Just doing all the things that we know we should do can pull you up out of that darkness in trying times. When I think of wellness, I don't just think of the body. I think body, mind, spirit, and soul. I think holistically when I hear the word "well." We tend to neglect our spirits and our minds.
IM: You are one of the most prolific songwriters of our generation, so I have to ask: When are we going to get new Keri Hilson music?
KH: Oh, thank you. I don't know. I can't answer the question, but I know that you will. [Exactly] When? I don't know, but I intend to release some things that I have done. I did some things on a soundtrack for a film releasing later this year. I am always going to create, may not always release, but one day I will. We'll have to see when it hits me again.
Lust: A Seven Deadly Sins Story is available to watch on mylifetime.com