ATLANTA (AP) — When Idris Elba agreed to direct K. Michelle's TV musical, the R&B singer thought he was kidding.
"I'm really good friends with Idris, and when I told him about it, he said he wanted to do it. I thought he was joking at first," Michelle said in a recent interview.
The rising singer is pairing with the Golden Globe winner for "Rebellious Soul: the Musical," which premieres Tuesday on VH1. The 30-minute special features songs from Michelle's album "Rebellious Soul," which debuted at No. 2 and No. 1 on Billboard's Top 200 albums and R&B/Hip-Hop albums charts last year.
"I told him about what I wanted to do, and he held his word," she said. "He never did judge me. He's a very down-to-earth person, so working with him was like working with one of my homeboys."
The outspoken singer gained popularity in 2012 as a star of the VH1 reality show "Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta." Michelle said she learned a great deal from Elba, who also records music and has produced for Jay Z.
"I learned a lot from just his drive, and just from him being professional when it comes to his business," the 30-year-old said. "I completely look up to him."
Michelle, who plans to release her sophomore album this year, said she's matured after watching herself get into constant turmoil on "Love & Hip Hop." She will debut a solo reality show called "K. Michelle: My Life" in the fall on VH1, which will showcase a different side of Michelle: motherhood.
"I keep him very tucked away from TV," she said of her son, "but this'll be the world's first time getting a little piece of my heart, my little one."
Michelle won best new artist honors at the Soul Train Awards and NAACP Image Awards last year. She was recently nominated for best female R&B/pop artist at the BET Awards — she lost to Beyonce — and opened on tour for Robin Thicke earlier this year. She's one of the few reality TV stars to make a breakthrough in music, though she advises up-and-coming musicians to look for another route.
"If you're on reality TV and a new artist, I would say 'stay away,'" she said. "I thank God every day. This could have (gone) a whole other way for me, but it didn't."
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