(Prince Williams / Splash News)
In the late '90s, you'd be hard pressed to find a teenager who wouldn't want to switch places with Brandy. The "It" girl had her own sitcom, "Moesha," a starring role in the film "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer," and had been awarded a Grammy for her musical collaboration with Monica, "That Boy Is Mine." But Brandy's personal life was anything but perfect as she secretly battled an eating disorder.
"I wanted to be so thin," Brandy, 33, says during Wednesday night's VH1's "Behind the Music" special spotlighting her career in conjunction with the upcoming release of her sixth studio album, "Two Eleven." "That was my main thing. So I started not taking care of myself — not eating properly, not eating at all, diet pills, regurgitating, and all of these things that girls do."
Although it appeared she had everything she could want, she said it was all a façade. "People don't understand that being the hottest star or making the most money does not mean anything," Brandy, who is mother to 9-year-old Sy'rai, tells VH1. "I'm here to tell you I was making so much money — I was omnipresent — and I was the unhappiest teenager probably in the world."
Brandy previously admitted that she dipped down from 125 pounds to 105 and would weigh herself "every five minutes," according to People magazine. And she later told Oprah, "Because I was very thin, everybody was telling me how great I looked. So I felt good about my outward appearance, but my insides were hell." In the fall of 1999, she was hospitalized after her mother found her dazed and dehydrated. "I was broken all the way down," she told Oprah. But it turned out to be a spiritual breakthrough. "I realized it's my responsibility to take care of myself, because nobody else will. And I can't depend on … anybody else to be responsible for me. And when I take care of me, everything else will fall into place."
During the special Brandy also opens up about losing her idol and mentor Whitney Houston in February. Houston, who was romantically linked to Brandy's brother Ray J, had a long relationship with the singing icon stemming back to when they appeared in the 1997 TV movie "Cinderella."
"My mom calls me and she says, 'Whitney just passed away.' I said, 'Whitney who?'" Brandy remembers. "It's almost like my whole life completely left my body in that moment and I just fell to the floor. I wanted to cry. I wanted to curse. I wanted to scream. I wanted to do everything I needed to do to get this feeling out." Brandy says that the loss was magnified because Houston passed away the day Brandy was celebrating her 33rd birthday. "She died on my birthday, so I feel like I have a responsibility to do everything that she would have wanted me to do. I have to stay true to that intention and true to being an inspiration and a light. That's what she would want. She gave me so much. So much. She gave me a dream."
More Celebrity Features on Yahoo!:
- Monica: How Brandy and I Went From Being Enemies to Friends
- Brandy on Whitney Houston's Death: "My Heart Is Destroyed"
- Brandy on Her New Album, Outlook and Reunion With Monica