Ashanti Offers Advice All Women Can Use In Their Careers, No Matter Their Profession

“You need to be in control and have as much power as you possibly can.”

It may have been the song that catapulted her to fame, but Ashanti is certainly not "Foolish." After more than 15 years in the business, the multi-hyphenate said she has discovered two meaningful lessons: knowledge is power and, if you want to have any say in your career, you must have control of your own story.

Ashanti — who recently performed at Room to Read's 2018 gala in New York City — told A Plus that one of the most necessary things she has learned during her time in the music industry is understanding that "at the end of the day, it's a business."

"Unfortunately, in my business, you're looked at as a commodity as opposed to a real person," Ashanti said during a phone interview. "I feel like I learned that, luckily, very early on. To not take things personally and understand that 99 percent of people do business with you as opposed to it being a personal thing."

Photo Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Room to Read
Photo Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Room to Read

The key to success, the Grammy winner revealed, is being "very passionate," "knowledgeable," and "creative with what you're able to do." Furthermore, it's crucial that you know "you really have to work hard" and that you "have to keep up with the times." After all, a lot has changed in the world since 2002.

One of the things Ashanti wants to make sure you know about the woman behind the artist — other than that she can cook an "awesome salmon kabob" — is that she owns her own record label, Written Entertainment. Establishing a company like this, Ashanti explained, helps guide the way the public views you.

Photo Credit: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Room To Read
Photo Credit: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Room To Read

"I think if you want to take charge of how you want to be perceived, you need to be in control and have as much power as you possibly can. Sometimes, when other people are involved, you may not be painted the way that it really happened or it really is," Ashanti said. "I think it's important to be hands on and, if you can't be in total control, at least be very much involved and be very aware because you don't want to have someone else misrepresent who you are or what you stand for."

Ashanti called performing at the NYC event that raised a grand total of $3 million — which will help support 60,000 children via Room to Read's programs focused on literacy and girls' education — simply "awesome." What's also awesome is that Room to Read, a nonprofit that was founded in 2000, has benefitted 12.4 million kids around the world and it aims to reach 15 million by 2020.

Photo Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Room to Read
Photo Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Room to Read

"Just being a female and living in a very male-dominated world — especially the music industry — whenever there's an opportunity to inspire young girls to be awesome I definitely try and take it," Ashanti continued, noting that "you could tell there was just a lot of love and a lot of support" at the gala.

For Ashanti, working with organizations that are helping children around the world — especially girls — have access to a better quality of education is something that drives home another imperative point: "knowledge is power."

"It all starts with knowledge — to be able to progress in life and to just have the tools to decide what you want to do in life. It's unfortunate that people are deprived," Ashanti said. "I think sometimes we take for granted the little things — we can go to Barnes & Noble or online or wherever to get a book. A simple book ... some people don't have that access."

Given her past achievements and everything she is working toward in the future, Ashanti considers herself lucky. The "Say Less" singer concluded: "[I feel] really grateful and super humble to be doing what I love and still being here."

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