Mary: When I was a girl, relatives teased me about my feet, my lips, my butt, the way I walked. They said, "You'll never finish high school." And I wanted them to love me so much. If I needed to smoke a cigarette to get their approval, fine. If I had to act mean or ignorant, great. But I could never do enough to satisfy them because they already had their favorite.

Oprah: I get it. What does fame mean to you?

Mary: These days, it means I have to remain humble and grateful. Before, it meant feeling good for a moment.

Oprah: As well known as I am, I still wonder what it must be like to be a singer, to have thousands of people in the audience waving their hands in the air and to feel the vibrational frequency when everyone in the room is with you. I think I've got it good, but I imagine there's nothing better than that. How is it possible to have that and still go home feeling ugly and stupid?

Mary: After a performance, I do have a rush. But two days later, I forget it. I'm just now getting to the point where I believe it's okay to be happy for myself. It's okay to say, "Well done."

Oprah: So "Mary doesn't take any crap" was just an image you created. You really weren't powerful, confident, or happy.

Mary: Right.

Oprah: By the way, what does the J stand for?

Mary: Jane. My parents named me after my father's mother: Mary Jane.

Oprah: I see. Are you confident and happy now?

Mary: Yes, though I still have my fall-off-the-horse days.

Oprah: How do you handle the haters and naysayers?

Mary: They don't bother me. They're not going to pull me back down. I'm exactly where a 35-year-old woman should be. I'm talking with Oprah and Gayle. I'm working with Bono on a video. At 50 I don't want to look back with regrets.

Oprah: Do you want children?

Mary: I already have two children [Kendu's kids]. I don't want any biological children right now. You know what I want? Property—lots and lots of real estate all over the place.

Oprah: You want security.

Mary: On all levels.

Oprah: I see an entire generation of hip- hoppers who have more wealth and influence than any other blacks at any other time in our history. They don't seem to know what to do with it.

Mary: They'd rather keep it gangsta than get real with themselves. I know people who have never been out of Yonkers. Where they live, being gangsta is the mentality.


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