When Kelly Clarkson released “Meaning of Life,” the nostalgic pop-soul record that reinvigorated her career, she had a good feeling about it. “I felt it was going to be a big life change,” Clarkson says, in a phone call. “I just didn’t know how.”
Clarkson was the first “American Idol” winner, and, arguably, the show’s greatest success story. Although her career never flagged, exactly, by the time “Meaning of Life” arrived in the fall of 2017, she was ready for something new.
The album’s success, in conjunction with her growing visibility as a coach on “The Voice,” led to “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” a vaguely “Ellen”-like, variety-style daytime talk show that will launch in September. Until then, she’s promoting her role in the upcoming animated film “UglyDolls,” and her ongoing tour.
The following are excerpts from that conversation.
SHE DOESN’T FEEL CONFLICTED ABOUT WORKING MOTHERHOOD
My mom was single for a portion of my life, so I always had a mom that worked really hard, I understood that at a young age. I didn’t feel abandoned. I knew she had to work, she had to pay our bills, and it was important to her. I’m not the mom with a ton of guilt about that. I have a pretty good balance, I feel, like, super blessed in that area. I don’t feel like I have to really give up anything, because we have a super great support system, and two nannies that help us out when I literally can’t be there because I’m onstage. My husband manages me, so normally if I’m working, he’s working.
HER NEW TALK SHOW WILL SHOWCASE — BUT ALSO REIN IN — HER NATURAL CHATTINESS
We shot the pilot and I was like, “This is really fun.” Honestly, I was terrified at first. I was like, “This might be a horrible idea.” … I definitely don’t have a problem (making conversation), but my problem is it has to be quick. I don’t do synopsis super well. I like investing in something wholeheartedly, even my friendships. I don’t do acquaintance super well. I like full-blown relationships.
SHE’LL HAVE TO DO HOMEWORK ON HER CELEBRITY GUESTS
I don’t follow pop culture as well as the average human. I don’t know when people get married or get divorced — I’m not usually the first person to know that, so I definitely have to have a stellar team that keeps me up to date. The last thing I’d ever want someone to feel is that I don’t (care). I want them to know that I care about what they’re doing, and it’s valid and of worth. It probably stems from Childhood Issues 101, but I definitely will do my homework.
She doesn’t worry she might say something to jeopardize the natural affection people feel for her
I had people in my life that worried about things I say, but I’ve never been that person. I don’t feel like I’ve ever been mean-spirited or unkind about something. Anything I’ve said needs to be said in that moment.
SHE’S USUALLY PRETTY CONFIDENT IN GENERAL
Once I survived the gauntlet of junior high, I became pretty confident, because I started singing, and that gave me a huge amount of confidence. People telling you you’re really good at something can turn a kid’s life around. It comes from kind of a sad place, but when people that are supposed to love and support you the most, when they let you down in such a monumental way, nothing can really hurt your feelings. … I think because I don’t derive validation or worth from others — if you put your worth and value into things that really matter to you, that’s where confidence comes from.
MOTHERHOOD (CLARKSON HAS TWO YOUNG CHILDREN, AND TWO STEPCHILDREN) HAS AMPLIFIED THAT
It’s a different confidence being a mom. Not that you have to become a mom (to be confident), because that would be stupid. I wasn’t a mom for years, and I felt very confident. But becoming a mom, it really does weed out the bull——. You’re like, I really don’t have time. We’ve got four kids, I’ve got, like, four jobs. There’s not a lot of time for silliness.
PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT SHE’S THE SAME AS THEM, ANYWAY
At the end of the day, we all want to be loved, we want to find someone to love. I don’t feel uncomfortable saying how I feel most of the time, because I don’t think I’m alone in that. From “Idol,” people would say, “You’re a part of our family,” or, “We voted for the girl next door.” And I would say, “I kind of am, probably. I’m no different than you.” I lucked out. I am a hard worker, but I know plenty of people who worked very hard to get where I am, and they don’t get there. It’s just the aligning of the stars at some point. I’m no different.