Tomorrow (January 12) sees American cable network WE tv launching Cyndi Lauper: Still So Unusual, a 12-episode reality series from Mark Burnett’s prodco One Three Media, which follows the daily life of the singer and Broadway composer (pictured), along with her husband David and their 14-year-old son Declyn.
Here, the 59-year-old – who first rocketed to fame with ’80s hits such as “Time after Time,” “True Colors” and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – talks to realscreen about the show, and shares her thoughts on reality TV, public image, and managing a healthy work-life balance.
How did the show come about?
I met Mark Burnett in 2006 or 2007, when I was trying to put a show together for the ‘True Colors’ fundraising tour, which was something I was doing with Rosie [O'Donnell].
And it didn’t work out, because music is always difficult on TV shows when you have to clear so much. But I just stayed in touch because I liked him, and I actually feel like reality TV shows are fairly new; they’re only 10 or 15 years old. In the grand scheme of TV, that’s new. I wanted to learn about the medium and bring attention to the stuff that I was doing.
Why did you decide now was the time to put your private life before the television cameras?
I thought it would be good to do something where I could highlight the other things in my life, like the Forty to None Project [a campaign that raises awareness about homeless LGBT youth]; like Kinky Boots, the play that’s going to be on Broadway from April 4; and the memoir that I wrote.
So I thought it would be good for that, and good to show the other side of what advocating is like. We went to Washington to advocate for human rights for homeless gay and transgender kids, to give them a voice. So to then put that on a reality show, that’s pretty good, because it gives them a voice. Of course, I’m very imperfect. Thank goodness I’m not a nun, so it doesn’t matter.
Do you watch reality TV shows?
I watch Joan Rivers a lot, I love her. I basically don’t care what she’s in, I want to watch her. And I was watching the Toni Braxton show [Braxton Family Values], because I watched WE tv to see what was happening. And then there are the outrageous ones like Ice Loves Coco.
Did you have any reticence about doing a reality TV show?
At first, yeah. I wanted [the exposure to] my kid to be limited, my family. Mostly it was about my professional life, but when you mix family and profession it gets a little… [laughs]
What should viewers expect?
It shows people trying to do something and getting caught by life, and how you handle yourself. Sometimes you handle yourself well, sometimes you don’t. And it shows the struggle between the outside world and the inside world. Every woman has this struggle, to do her job and be with the family.
And [that's true] for men now too, because you want to be with your kids and you want to work. But it’s funny. It wasn’t intentionally funny, [but] it got funnier as it went.
Is it something that you’ll want to do over more than one season?
If you can do interesting things and highlight what you do, then yes.
- Check out a clip from the show below: