Oprah: A lot of people reading this magazine are parents of teenagers. Do you think the challenges are different when your child has money, celebrity, and access to everything?

Sonja: When your teen has money and she's already living in the adult world, she's like...

Brandy: Why can't I date?

Sonja: She'd been taking care of herself since she was 15.

Oprah: Brandy, at what stage in your career did you realize you were hot—that you had what a lot of people wanted?

Brandy: I don't know if I ever realized it. My mom used to always tell me, "You don't know how big a star you are...."

Oprah: Is that because the spotlight is all you've ever known?

Brandy: Yes. But I've always wanted to stay down-to-earth. I didn't want people to look at me and say, "She thinks she's all that." So I tried to be the girl who was smiling all the time.

Sonja: I think Brandy felt guilty about her success and couldn't really enjoy it because her friends didn't have the kind of life she had. So she gave her friends very expensive gifts, which was her way of trying to say "I love you." But that wasn't the answer, because she discovered over time that those people were not her true friends. Even now she still tries to please people.

Oprah: Yes, but she's 23. I was 42 before I got over that. How old were you when you first understood that, Sonja?

Sonja: Because I was bullied in school when I was 13 or 14, I decided I wasn't going to take crap from anyone. I guess that's why I still don't have a lot of friends. I do cater to others sometimes, but then I stop myself.

Oprah: It's a miracle you learned that at such an early age.

Sonja: But it's also been very lonely. So many of the challenges Brandy has faced are the same ones I did. If there were anything I could go back and change in raising her, I would focus more on helping her understand how valuable she is to herself.


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