How music and performing have always been the beacon in Lady Gaga’s life
She’s a pop star. She’s a movie star. She’s a superstar to legions of fans who vibe with her experimental style, her outspoken message, her honesty, her individual expression. She is Lady Gaga and in the ten years since she launched her first album The Fame, her star is shining just as bright if not brighter. When asked what has changed in these last 10 years, Lady Gaga tells Vogue, “I would just say that it’s been a nonstop whirlwind. And when I am in an imaginative or creative mode, it sort of grabs me like a sleigh with a thousand horses and pulls me away and I just don’t stop working.”
This drive and work ethic heralds back to her upbringing, from which she draws strength and inspiration for both her music and acting. The women in her life–her mother, Cynthia, her grandmothers and her aunt who died before she was born and who she only knows through stories and photos–were strong forces who influence her. “My rebelliousness, if you want to call it that, is something that was passed along to me by a long line of tough people—and tough women—in my family,” Lady Gaga pens in an essay for Harper’s Bazaar.
Lady Gaga was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta in Yonkers, NY and her rebelliousness did not deter from her destiny to perform, in fact it may eventually have catapulted it. She learned how to play the piano by the age of 4 and was writing songs by the time she turned 11. She was bullied at her Catholic school for being short and stout and having protruding front teeth. But that didn’t stop her. She played her first club when she was 14 and continued to perform, honing her singing skills and was accepted early, one of 20 students, to a program through NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She studied singing and songwriting there and dappled in religion, art, social issues and politics.
At age 19, however, she dropped out to work full-time on her craft, becoming a struggling artist on New York’s lower east side. Initially it paid off. She was signed to a deal with Def Jam Records in 2006 only to be dropped from the label a few months later. Again, though, she forged on. After stints as a burlesque show performer and go-go dancer, she went on to write songs for Sony/ATV and their artists including Britney Spears, New Kids on the Block, Fergie and the Pussycat Dolls. Still, Lady Gaga wanted to sing her songs, and did, once she signed with Interscope Records and then with Akon in a joint deal with his label Kon Live. In 2008 she release her first album The Fame with singles including chart toppers “Poker Face” and “Just Dance.”
She went on to record four more studio albums, one soundtrack album, 18 singles, perform at the Superbowl and win nine Grammy awards and two Golden Globes.
One of the Golden Globes was, surprisingly, for acting. Something few know, with all her pop phenom superstardom, Lady Gaga originally wanted to be an actress. She studied method acting as a teen at the Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute and then later at NYU. “I wanted it so much,” she told Vogue, “but I was terrible at auditioning.” So she turned to music instead. But when Hollywood came calling later, she answered. Winning accolades and a Golden Globe award for her guest starring role on American Horror Story.
The other Golden Globe is for Best Original Song for her latest role in 2018’s box office smash A Star is Born, in which she starred as Ally opposite Bradley Cooper’s Jackson. As the movie’s director, Bradley Cooper knew he wanted Lady Gaga for the part of Ally almost immediately. After hearing her perform at a charity event in Los Angeles, he called her agent asking for a meeting. The next day he drove over to her multiple acre Mediterranean estate in Malibu, complete with barns, a riding ring and a French-countryside-esque stone house, which was uber cozy inside. There was an instant connection at the front door and before she knew it, Lady Gaga tells Elle, “I was making him pasta, feeding him, and we were talking and laughing. Then he wanted to hear us sing together, and asked if I would sing a song called ‘Midnight Special’ with him. I printed out the sheet music, and I brought it out to the piano, and I was so nervous. And so I’m sight-reading the music at the piano, and we start to sing, and I hear Bradley’s voice, and I just stopped playing, and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, Bradley, you can sing.’ It’s incredible,” she goes on to say.
No surprise then that the pair recently won a Grammy at the 2019 award for best pop duo/group performance for Shallow and Lady Gaga walked away with two more Grammys: one for best pop solo performance for the song Joanne inspired by her late aunt for which she later tweeted. “A Grammy for ‘Joanne’ is more than me & my family could ever dream of. I sang that version in one take, & poured my entire life & soul into it. Thank you so much for this gift I am completely shocked. 2nd Grammy win of the night I am so overwhelmed by this kindness.” Then, the other for best written song for visual media, again for Shallow.
So while the singing seemed seamless for the movie, how was she thinking she would approach the acting? “The character of Ally is formed by my life experience,” she explains to Elle. “But I also want to make sure that she was not me. It was a cadence of both.” And that she says was the hardest part of her role. She of course made it work as audiences loved her and she was nominated for even more awards, this time it is the Oscars calling with bids for Best Original Song and Best Actress.
Such a busy schedule it’s a good thing she gave up her home in New York (“too hectic on the street” she tells Vogue) and favors her close by Malibu retreat, with green grassy slopes tumbling to a pool and Pacific Ocean vistas beyond. “This is my sanctuary,” she says. “My oasis of peace. I call it my ‘gypsy palace.’” Well, we hope she can find a little downtime there during this busy awards season–and that she can keep the sleigh with a thousand horses at bay for just a little while before her star starts itching to shine once again.