Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
March 28, 1986
2008 - Present
Currently Known For:
Singer, Songwriter, Actress, and Record Producer
Poker Face, Just Dance, Bad Romance
“Don’t you ever let a soul in the world tell you that you can’t be exactly who you are.” One of the most accomplished singers in the music industry today with six Grammy Awards as well as several Guinness World Records, Lady Gaga broke into the music industry in the new millennium and has built her reputation around her provocative unconventionality. Always changing her vocal style and experimenting with her appearance, Lady Gaga first rose to fame in 2008 with The Fame featuring chart-topping singles like “Poker Face” and “Just Dance.” Enjoying similar success with her next four albums, the 32-year-old artist has earned numerous awards in addition to being ranked as one of the Greatest Women in Music by VH1. So, what’s her then and now Hollywood story? Let’s take a look at the artist’s journey from New York City to super stardom!
Gaga Ooh La La: Early Life
Decades before she adopted her stage name, Lady Gaga was born as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta on March 28, 1986 in New York City, New York. She grew up in Manhattan’s Upper West Side where her parents worked hard to give her and her younger sister, Natali, a better life. That included piano lessons, which Lady Gaga started when she was four years old at the insistence of her mother. But, unlike most children forced into a hobby, the young Stefani instantly fell in love with music and often created her own pieces by ear instead of reading the sheet music in front of her. This cultivated her interest in performing as she attended creative arts camps over the summers and performed at open mic nights as a teen.
“I don’t know exactly where my affinity for music comes from, but it is the thing that comes easiest to me,” Lady Gaga later said after admitting she was a stellar student but always felt like a misfit among her peers. “When I was like three years old, I may have been even younger, my mom always tells this really embarrassing story of me propping myself up and playing the keys like this because I was too young and short to get all the way up there. Just go like this on the low end of the piano… I was really, really good at piano, so my first instincts were to work so hard at practicing piano, and I might not have been a natural dancer, but I am a natural musician. That is the thing I believe I am the greatest at.”
Sticking with music throughout her teens, Gaga starred in her high school’s productions of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Guys and Dolls. In her spare time, she studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, but failed to win a role in any New York show until 2001 when she snagged a minor role as a high school student in an episode of The Sopranos. A few years later, she was accepted into NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts’ Collaborative Arts Project and spent the next few years studying music and songwriting.
During her time in college, Lady Gaga and a few friends started the band, SGBand, in 2005 and performed throughout New York City’s Lower East Side. After one performance at The Cutting Room, a talent scout named Wendy Starland recommended Gaga to music producer Rob Fusari, who helped Gaga hone her talents as a songwriter. Amid their work together and the formation of their company, Team Lovechild, the duo fell in love as Fusari dubbed her “Ga Ga” after Queen’s popular single, “Radio Ga Ga.”
With Fusari on her side until their breakup in 2007, Lady Gaga recorded electropop tracks and signed a contract with Def Jam Recordings only to be dropped from the label three months later. Briefly returning home for Christmas, she started performing neo-burlesque shows alongside performance artist Lady Starlight. Together, the duo billed themselves as “Lady Gaga and the Starlight Revue: The Ultimate Pop Burlesque Rock Show” and performed at the 2007 Lollapalooza music festival. From there, Gaga was spotted by record executive Vincent Herbert who signed her to Streamline Records and then negotiated a deal with Sony/ATV Records for her to write songs for Britney Spears, Fergie, and The Pussycat Dolls.
With her career slowly blossoming, the influence of the music industry and a party-hard lifestyle soon took hold as Lady Gaga became even more rebellious, which led her father to cut her off. “I was a bad kid,” Lady Gaga admitted. “I had a lot of home issues when I was in high school especially. I was a f—king nightmare. My mom always laughs at me now, because I get drunk when I’m at home with my parents at a bar down the street. I’m like, ‘I was such a bad kid, I’m so sorry!’ I get so upset. My mom’s like, ‘You made up for it. It’s fine.’” Gaga’s father now feels the same and has mended fences with his oldest daughter, whom he affectionately calls ‘Loopy.’
“My whole life, my dad was just trying to hide from me that he was a real dude, and now I’m old enough, we’re the best of friends, because he’s just given up on trying to be the father,” Lady Gaga says. “It’s just recently that I’ve been healed in a way, because my father had this heart surgery that he was supposed to have since I was a kid. The fear of losing the man of my dreams, such as my dad—there’s f—king Freud for you—was terrifying. So, the biggest fear of my life passed.”
Breakthrough: Make Way for Gaga
“My name is Lady Gaga, I’ve been on the music scene for years, and I’m telling you, this is what’s next.” In 2008, Lady Gaga signed a recording contract with Cherrytree Records and moved to Los Angeles where she released her first studio album, The Fame. The album was a sleeper hit and ranked number one in countries like Switzerland, Canada, Ireland, and Austria while ranking in the top five in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. It also earned her a Grammy Award for Best Dance/Electronica Album and a Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording for “Poker Face,” one of two hit singles that truly put Gaga on the map in the music industry.
From there, Lady Gaga went on tour with The Pussycat Dolls in 2009 and released a reissue of her debut album, The Fame Monster, featuring singles like “Bad Romance,” “Telephone,” and “Alejandro.” At the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, she took home eight awards from 13 nominations and became the most nominated artist of the year with The Fame Monster going on to win several Grammy Awards as well. This inspired Gaga to launch The Monster Ball Tour, which she followed up with the release of her next studio album, Born This Way, followed by her third studio album, Artpop in 2012. Over the next few years, she became a staple in the music business with appearances on Saturday Night Live and The Voice in addition to hosting the Lady Gaga and the Muppets Holiday Spectacular.
In 2015, Gaga saw another dream come true when she became a television actress and starred in American Horror Story: Hotel. Her work on the series earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film. By then, it was apparent Gaga was a workaholic when she sang the national anthem at Super Bowl 50, performed at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards, returned to television in American Horror Story: Roanoke, and released her next album, Joanne, which sold 170,000 copies in its first week.
“In so many ways, my music also heals me,” Gaga said of her work ethic and an obvious addiction to staying busy. “When you work as hard as I do, or you resign your life to something like music or art or writing, you have to commit yourself to this struggle and commit yourself to the pain. And I commit myself to my heartbreak wholeheartedly,” she added of the heartache that often inspires her music. “It’s something that I will never let go. But that heartbreak, in a way, is my feature. It’s a representation of the process of my work. As artists, we are eternally heartbroken.”
That heartache continues to inspire Lady Gaga’s music as the 32-year-old finishes up her sixth studio album. She’s also working on Bradley Cooper’s remake of the 1937 film, A Star is Born, which is set to release in October 2018. But, that’s not all! Lady Gaga recently signed a two-year residency to perform on the Las Vegas Strip at the MGM Park Theater, which will start in December 2018 and will certainly keep her incredibly busy over the next few years. But, that’s exactly how Gaga likes it. “We’re supposed to be tired,” she says. “I don’t know who told everyone otherwise, but you make a record and you tour. That’s how you build a career. I told my manager today, ‘I can’t wait to take all my platinum records off the walls and make room for more.’”