VV: You also worked with Babyface. Is there a learning curve working with someone as experienced as him?
R: I let him go. I’ve learned so much from watching other people write. I’ve worked so many people, and it’s been such an incredible experience. Ne-Yo will listen to a song, write a song in five minutes and [say], “Here, this is how it goes.” And I’m like, are you serious right now? Whatever you have, give it to me ‘cause I need that. I wanted to let other people who have been so successful in the industry teach me. I went in and I didn’t try to step on anybody’s toes.
Growing up, was there a certain point where you were just like, “Now I really have to make it, failure’s not an option?”
At one point I kind of went through a stage of depression. My sister Ryan was acting, doing things like the “Get Rich or Die Tryin,’” video, the TV show Lincoln Heights and a ton of commercials, so I went through a phase of a little jealousy. It would kill me.
Did you ever talk to your sister about it?
Yeah, we’ve talked about it, and we actually live together now. She was in her junior year of college [at the time], and we laugh about it now. She was just like, “I was hating on you [but] I still looked up to you, even though I was doing those things. I still wanted to be exactly like you.”
How did that make you feel when you heard that?
Crazy! I don’t have any older siblings, so the people I look up have been cousins or really close family friends that are older than me. My sister is actually in the School of Cinematic Arts and Film in Los Angeles, and she’s doing a wonderful job writing treatments for videos and working under Shonda Rhimes, so she’s coming right behind me. One day she could be able to direct my videos.
This feature appears in VIBE Vixen‘s FEB/MAR Digital Issue. Read it here!