Can you say: Olympic gold!
“I ran track ever since the eighth grade,” Ashanti said. “I got two scholarship offers, and I actually got scouted by the Olympics.”
That’s right, the accomplished songstress/actress will run circles around you… Or jump.
“Triple jump was my main event,” said Ashanti, who went to high school in the New York City area. “I’m in the Hall of Fame at my school for triple jump; and that’s with no formal training.”
I caught up with Ashanti to chop-it-up during Girls Sports Month about everything from how she’d fare given the chance to compete in the Rio Olympics to her theatrical executive producing debut to her new album and lots more.
Jason Jordan: I always like to gauge the sports backgrounds and experiences of all of my guests on the Celeb Chop-Up; what sports did you try coming up?
Ashanti: Pretty much everything. I ran track ever since the eighth grade, and that’s with the varsity team. I actually got scouted by the Olympics and I got two scholarship offers, one to Princeton and one to Hampton.
JJ: So you’re a regular Flo-Jo!
A: (Laughs) I was pretty good. I played softball, kickball, volleyball, I was a cheerleader, I played badminton… I was an overall tomboy!
JJ: Well, the Olympics are quickly approaching, let’s say Team USA gave you a shot in the triple jump, how would you make out?
A: (Laughs) Oh wow! If they gave me a good two months of training I feel like I’d do pretty well. You’ve gotta remember I was doing everything with no formal training. My coach was very honest with me back then and told me that she didn’t know how to make me great so had I had any kind of training I know it would’ve been even better. I think my best jump back then was a 39, and I used to jump from the boys’ line. I would love that opportunity.
JJ: We had your man Ja Rule on the Celeb Chop-Up recently and he told us he’s a long-suffering New York Knicks fan. I know you’re from New York; is this your reality as well?
A: (Laughs) You know what it is, I’m just a really hardcore, authentic New Yorker and I try and rep where I’m from so I feel Ja on that! I’ve got the Knicks hats with the snakeskin brims and all that!
JJ: Oh wow, that’s serious! So let’s just cut to the chase, are they gonna make the playoffs?
A: Ya know Jason… What I’ll say is positive energy. Positive energy!
JJ: Fair enough! Let’s take it random: President Obama’s Secret Service code name is Renegade; if you were President what would your code name be?
A: (Laughs) I’m gonna say Untouchable!
JJ: What competition based reality show would you absolutely win?
A: Hmm, what’s the show where they have to eat bugs and nasty stuff like that?
JJ: Fear Factor.
A: Yeah, see, that’s not gonna happen. Probably The Amazing Race or maybe Survivor.
JJ: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
A: When my sister takes things out of my bathroom and leaves it somewhere else. She doesn’t even tell me she took it. I hate that!
JJ: In the epic game of Paper, Rock, Scissors which object do you tend to get the most wins with?
A: Ooh the rock! That’s a good one.
JJ: You’re a New Yorker to the heart so I know you can tell me who has the best pizza in the city?
A: (Laughs) OK, well I get two because I’m a New Yorker, but I’m from Long Island! The first one is gonna be Sal’s Pizza in Glen Cove where I grew up! The second one is tough! I’m gonna say Ray’s Pizza. One time I was staying in a hotel and I asked the bellman if he could run across the street and get me a slice and it was the best pizza I’d ever had! I kid you not. And it’s just 99 cents a slice!
JJ: What was your worst pre-fame job?
A: (Laughs) Oh wow! Oh my God! I used to sell knives door-to-door. Wow, yeah, I did that. I only went to like two houses and I was done.
JJ: Are you late, early or right on time typically?
A: Late! Yeah I know one of our biggest records was Always On Time, but that’s a lie! (Laughs)
JJ: What was your worst childhood punishment?
A: Oh man my mother put me on punishment for a month with no TV, no radio, nothing after school activities… It was because I had a couple of my friends come over one night after school and we had a bunch of boys too and someone opened the door really fast and it flew back into the wall and made two giant holes in the wall. That was a rough time! It was terrible.
JJ: When you see yellow traffic lights what’s the first thing that pops into your head?
A: (Laughs) Off the top? Speed up before it turns red! Sometimes, if I’m in a pleasant mood, it’s let me slow down so I don’t cause an accident.
JJ: What movie absolutely deserves another installment?
A: Well, I’m gonna be very biased and say all three of the movies that I’ve been in! (Laughs) No, but honestly, my mom is really cool with Coach Carter and we’ve been in talks for a Coach Carter 2. He’s doing some really dope stuff!
JJ: I’d love to see it! What’s the most overused slang word or phrase out today?
A: (Laughs) There’s a couple of them; I’d say on fleek, poppin’, facts, thot! All of those!
JJ: Here’s the scenario: While parking you tap the car in front of you and no one’s around, do you leave a note or do you move to a different row?
A: (Laughs) Oh man… I’m moving to a different row! OK, I will check to see if there’s damage first. I’ve been in a situation where something happened and there was a really bad mark left on a car. But there was a big amount of cash left in the garage for the car so…
JJ: If you would 100 percent get away with it which crime would you commit?
A: If I would 100 percent get away with it the crime that I would commit would be to rob several billionaires and drop loads of cash on every poverty stricken country.
JJ: Ah, the “Robin Hood” thing; I like it. Now you’re still going to jail if you get caught, but at least you helped some people on the way.
A: (Laughs) Yes, I’ll have a clear conscious in my cell!
JJ: What sitcom intro song do you know every word to?
A: Hmm, definitely The Fresh Prince; I think I know all of Friends too.
JJ: Unfortunately you’ve found yourself in the Witness Protection Program what would your cover name be?
A: (Laughs) Hold on I’ve gotta think about it… Patty Woodberry. Nobody’s looking for her.
JJ: Indeed! What random fact can you just tell me right now?
A: That you should never buy lotions or shampoos or things like that if they have paraffins in them because they’re cancerous. Read those labels!
JJ: Blindfolded can you tell the difference between Pepsi and Coke?
A: Absolutely not, because I don’t drink either!
JJ: You were adamant there; was that your not-so-subtle segue for your Drink Up movement?
A: (Laughs) Hey I drink water! But, yeah, DrinkUpAshanti.com!
JJ: Nicely done! OK, we’ve got your tour and I know you’re executive producing a new movie, we’ve got a new album; talk about everything that fans can look forward to.
A: Thanks Jason, this was fun! I’m in a really great headspace right now and we’re putting the album together right now. Also, I’m executive producing for the first time on the movie Mothers and Daughters starring Courtney Cox, Sharon Stone, Susan Sarandon, Mira Sorvino; it’s a really dope film. It comes out Mother’s Day weekend and it’s something that I think everyone will really enjoy!
Follow Jason Jordan on Twitter: @JayJayUSATODAY