Mariah Carey may be the world's most successful female singer at the moment, but when Ben Hewitt met up with her in a plush New York hotel suite for TV Hits there were no pop star airs and graces in sight. Dressed in a comfy jumper and jeans she could have been mistaken for any normal 23-year-old, except that most girls her age haven't had umpteen number ones, aren't married to the boss of the world's biggest record company and don't have millions of dollars plugging up their bank accounts! We tried to conceal our jealousy and settled down to hear her fairy-tale story of rags to riches...
You've been voted the best female singer by TV HITS readers and you've scooped loads of awards in your career do you ever have to pinch yourself to realise it's all happening?
I do, yeah! And sometimes I'm actually afraid that I'll wake up and be back sleeping on the mattress that I shared with my two cats and four other aspiring singer-songwriters. I couldn't have planned it any better, so sometimes it seems like a dream!
You don't seem to treat yourself as a superstar, though.
No really, I don't. Honestly.
What's really changed in your life?
It's strange because before I did this for a living it was my hobby. And now it's my living and my hobby and it's everything. I do it night and day and I think that it was always this much of a priority to me its just that I never made anything out of it, I just did it. I still have the friends and the people who were close to me before this happened and I try to keep them part of my life.
You've got the success you dreamed of, but is it how you thought it'd be?
Sometimes I wish I could step outside of myself and watch everything going on. Because you are living and things are happening so quickly, you don't always live the moment as you could. Like the first time I was on the Grammys and I won two awards I was up the night before. I was so tired but I was so nervous I just couldn't sleep. Not because I was thinking 'Am I going to win?' but because I had to perform in front of all these superstars sitting, staring up at me some of the most talented musicians in the world. Even when I was accepting my awards I was like, 'This isn't real'.
Do you have any ambitions left?
I just want to grow and get better and hopefully learn something new every day.
You're really popular at the moment, but are you worried that'll all end?
No, because good music and a good song will always shine through no matter what happens. I feel that if I can keep doing music that I'm proud of then that's the most important thing to me.
Lots of singers go into acting will you?
It's not something I'm thinking about at the moment singing is what I always wanted to do, it's not a stepping stone so I can move into something else. I don't look at it as 'Now I can be in a movie!' But I can't say that some day I wouldn't want to do it. I think anybody would love to do it if they had the chance!
You were also voted third Sexiest Woman On The Planet by our readers do you think you've got a sexy image?
I think I'm very conservative compared to most female pop singers. What I wear is what I pick out in the morning, it's not picked by any stylist, but sometimes people get worried if I look too sophisticated they try to tone me down by I don't think I'm extreme by any means.
How do you keep your fab figure?
Well, I don't go to the gym but I have a girl who comes over and helps me work out sometimes, but it's not very regimented. I should work out more.
Are you a fashion conscious person?
Sort of. Not overly. I like to wear jeans a lot and I like to get dressed up and go out, but I'm not like a fashion buff at all.
Do you have to get dressed up to go down to the shops now?
Well, before I had a record out I would go to the store in an old T-shirt or something that I'd rolled out of bed wearing. But now if I do that and someone takes a picture of me and it winds up in the paper I wouldn't be too happy! So, yes, I have to worry about it a bit more. At home I go around in a baseball cap and glasses.
What do you spend your money on?
I guess I spend a lot on clothes and I buy a lot of shoes. When I started out waitressing I had one pair of shoes and they were these old ratty things that used to be my mom's, whose feet are half a size smaller. They had holes in them and they were totally worn out and useless and I had to walk back and forth to work in Manhattan in the snow wearing them. I said to myself, 'I'm gonna save these shoes and one day I'm gonna have a whole chestful of shoes!'
Apart from shopping, what else do you do to relax?
I've started horseriding. I never did it in my whole life, I was very scared 'cause I knew someone who broke their collar-bone. Then recently I got into it and I really love it! I've been doing it every weekend and it's a great outlet for me!
What's your idea of bliss?
I don't know, that's a hard one. Just living life to the fullest and enjoying what I do.
Would you say you're an easy person to be with?
Sometimes, sometimes not. Like everybody I have my good days and my bad days.
Finally, what are the good things and bad things about being Mariah Carey?
It's hard to say because I'm myself so I don't know! But I guess I'm very, very critical of myself and I wish I could be a little more lenient sometimes. I wish I didn't have to get so insane about things that I do. And I won't point out the other bad points for anyone in case they hadn't already noticed them!