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Monday 22 October 2018

What's new pussycat? Interview with Ashley Roberts

The Pussycat Dolls perform onstage in Melbourne Australia.
The Pussycat Dolls perform onstage in Melbourne Australia.

The Pussycat Dolls are currently working on world domination, but what will they do next? Tanya Sweeney asks Ashley Roberts about her plans

Proving that she is much more than a pretty face (and killer six-pack), Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts has started hatching a plan for her post-PCD life. Says the blonde, dubbed 'Angel Doll' by the band's legion of young fans: "I really want to do rom-coms. When I was growing up, my idols were Chris Farley, Mike Myers and Jim Carrey.

"I've already been in a movie (dance flick Make It Happen)," she adds. "A few opportunities have come up but I had to turn stuff down because of the timing. I'd love to be a kind of bubbly, goofy character."

In case you're worrying that the Dolls' days are numbered, fret not: the sexy quintet have plans for world domination before they think of hanging up their spurs.

Speaking about their new smash album, Ashley notes: "We have a song called Taking Over The World, and the album is called Doll Domination, which tells you all you need to know about what we're about!

"The message we give out is, 'never give up and never stop believing, and don't give in to self-criticism because we can be our own worst enemies, you know."

Empowering stuff indeed, yet despite the encouraging words, the Pussycat Dolls have long been tarred with the 'bad-role-model' brush.

With their sexy dance routines and skimpy, flesh-baring garb, the Dolls have been slammed for being too raunchy for young, impressionable pop followers.

Lily Allen recently lobbed a scathing attack at the PCD camp: "I've got a really big problem with the Pussycat Dolls, because I think they're a really bad role model for little girls," she pontificated recently. "They're too skinny, take all their clothes off, don't say anything, promote womanising and look like lap-dancers.

"It's a bad message to be sending and not just for young women -- but for young men. For them to believe that's what women are like in real life is such a hideous concept to sell to people. It's just terrible."

By now, it's a criticism that Ashley and the other dolls have grown used to weathering.

"Sometimes that's really hard to hear, mostly because we're really good girls underneath it all," she sighs. "We love performing and we know who we are as people. I mean, it's just the press; they want to find something to poke at."

In fact, for a girl group, the Dolls have a refreshingly united and harmonious front. Rumours of tension and clashing egos befall most other all-girl outfits, but there's nary a whisper about rivalry in the PCD camp. Even Carmit Bachar, who left the outfit last year, departed on calm terms.

"The thing is, we're professional girls," explains Ashley. "Apart from Melody, who joined us right out of high school, we have all been working on our dreams for years. We want it to succeed so we're big on communication and support. We have talks if something needs to be aired and we pride ourselves in having open conversations. On top of that, we're a tight, spiritual band who are just trying to stay grounded."

Still, staying grounded proved to be a tall order when Ashley was faced with her childhood crushes. During the making of Doll Domination, New Kids On The Block dropped by the studio to lend a hand on the production.

"It was so surreal!" she gushes. "I had the New Kids On The Block pyjamas and stuff and now there I am working with them. I couldn't believe how humble they were. We sat around comparing our experiences of being in a group."

Now the girls are fully-fledged pop A-listers, their early days as an underground burlesque troupe seem like an eternity ago.

"There's parts of that I really do miss, that time when there wasn't any pressure," admits Ashley. "But we do this thing on our tour that's like a burlesque throwback so we get to pay tribute to where we came from. I love that there's all kinds of stuff in the show."

Originally from Arizona, Ashley joined the Dolls in 2001 within six months of her move to LA. A lucky break indeed. . . but her trip to the top wasn't always easy.

Referring to the lean years, she laughs: "I was working three jobs at one point! I had been working as a hostess, waitressing at Jamba Juice, dancing at bar mitzvahs and working as a receptionist."

The pop group began to take flight when vocalists Melody Thornton and Nicola Scherzinger joined in 2003.

"I found out that Melody was from Phoenix so we hit it off straightaway," recalls Ashley. "Nicole came in when we needed more vocals and she was such an amazing singer."

Despite selling almost six million albums and landing on every 'Sexiest Women Alive' list out there, Ashley still professes to be a normal girl with a simple home life.

"In LA I go to a lot of dance classes and a lot of the little kids will come up to me there for a picture, but most of the time we're left alone."

So did they ever, as their recent hit single dictates, grow up and get the groupies they always wanted?

"We don't have male groupies but we do love our gay boys!" she laughs. "We have mainly girl fans, but funnily enough no men ever really approach us at the shows!"

Doll Domination is out now

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