PHOTOGRAPHY TOM MUNRO
FASHION CARLYNE CERF DE DUDZEELE
TEXT DEREK BLASBERG
DON’T LET HER DOLL-LIKE FEATURES FOOL YOU. SASSY 20-YEAR-OLD POP STAR ARIANA GRANDE IS NOT AFRAID TO USE HER ANGELIC VOICE TO SOUND OFF. HERE, SHE DISCUSSES DIVAS, DIET, AND WHY MUSIC IS HER DHARMA
I meet Ariana Grande the voice, which is enormous and booming, before I meet Ariana Grande the person, who is petite and delicate. It’s New York fashion week, and I’m loitering backstage at an event where Grande will sing “The Way,” her hit single, which has 125 million views on YouTube and counting. The Nickelodeon TV actress turned fledging pop star is in her dressing room warming up her vocal chords, crooning, which fills the auditorium packed with famous designers and celebrities with a sound that music critics refer to as “mini-Mariah Carey.” When she comes out, everyone gawks at her and her cheeks flush as bright red as her lipstick. “I was so embarrassed!” she says a few months later when we meet again. “I didn’t know everyone could hear me, and it was especially mortifying because it was, like, a fashion audience. I was like, argh!”
Grande’s slight, 20-year-old body is folded up on a black leather sofa in a photo studio in Manhattan. She is still starring in Nickelodeon’s Sam & Cat, which films in L.A., so this New York visit lasts only 24 hours and is scheduled by the minute, with meetings, appearances, and our photo shoot, which has just wrapped. She’s wearing a tight, white knit sweater cropped above her belly button and a flirty white skirt that flips up when she twirls around, which is often. Her hair is scooped back into her trademark high half-ponytail. “I use my hair as a mask, as a shield. I hide behind it and it’s what keeps me me. Some people make fun of me for it, but I don’t know who those some people are, so I don’t care.”
Her voice isn’t her only impressive characteristic. Grande’s diminutive stature belies a fierce attitude and vast array of opinions on everything from veganism to the supernatural. “In America, almost everybody thinks you need to have meat for protein. Protein, protein, protein! And what’s in dairy? Calcium, calcium, calcium. It’s those kinds of proteins that latch onto the insides of your bloodstream and make it easier for you to have a heart attack. Look, cows produce milk with nutrients for cows. Maybe that’s why Americans end up looking like cows!” After watching the documentary Forks Over Knives, Grande went vegan. “Ultimately, no one wants cow tit pus in their food, do they?” she deadpans.