Why Keri Hilson Joined the HIV/AIDS Fight [EXCLUSIVE]
Plus, she talks her latest movie & music
It's been years since Keri Hilson was first introduced to us as a songwriter-turned-solo star.
Now, she's fresh off the success of the box-office hit "Think Like a Man," in which she made a hilarious cameo and, more importantly, she has just become the celebrity ambassador of the first-ever MTV Staying Alive Foundation team that'll be participating in this Sunday's (May 20) AIDS Walk New York -- a 10K, and the East coast’s first (as well as the world’s largest) AIDS fundraising event that aims to raise money and awareness.
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Here, she speaks to Loop 21 about why she joined the walk-a-thon and her latest projects.
Loop 21: Having already posed for H&M's Fashion Against AIDS campaign, what made you want to join another initiative?
Hilson: While I was doing my research as part of that campaign, I realized that we are really not as aware of AIDS as we are of other diseases. I mean that it's not as present and in our faces. It's not on the news, it's not something talked about in every day life -- it's kind of taboo. But when you look at the numbers, that is the exact opposite of what the fact is, which is that 34-37 million people are infected around the world, with 2.7 million new cases per year of young people. And I love Staying Alive's approach -- they start with educating the youth and I'm all about that. My music allows me [to reach] that same demographic as listeners.
Loop 21: When you say "we are not as aware," do you mean the United States?
Hilson: Yeah. I think it's better conversed about in Africa. You see billboards. There's a presence of the epidemic. You can't really escape it because it does run rampant in certain areas of the world, and some of those places do a decent job of at least trying to educate people. It seems as though the U.S. wants to pretend that certain things don't exist. The media talks about violence and, yeah, safe sex but you don't tell people why. You don't show them the harms and dangers. We feel like were so far removed from those that are infected with this disease, like there aren't that many documentaries shown on TV or on the news.
Loop 21: What are you most excited about for the AIDS Walk?
Hilson: People coming together for a good cause and everyone doing their little part. I'm looking forward to the feeling that I'll get seeing people put in their time, effort and, for some, their finances that they work very, very hard for. And I'm walking with my fans. I created my own team; we call it the Keri Crew. Some of my fans are driving in from Canada, D.C., Philly, all around the Northeast -- hopefully further, it's not too late actually. [Watch the video below to find out how you can still join!]
Loop 21: What do you make of the success of "Think Like a Man"?
Hilson: It's incredible. It shows that we, as black entertainers, are so capable of making hit movies. I love that it was a positive love story and we didn't have to exploit ourselves and that there's a message. I'm most proud of even having a very small part in a movie that portrayed it in such a beautiful way.
Loop 21: What can you tell us about your new music?
Hilson: Not much [laughs]. I'm recording and I'm feeling great about it. I just don't like to say much. I'm taking my dear sweet time. Just know that I'm happy and I'm working hard and I'm enjoying what I'm hearing back, so I hope my true fans will.
[ALSO READ: 6 Reasons to See 'Think Like a Man']