Alicia Keys Says She Was ‘Manipulated’ During a ‘Sleazy’ Photoshoot

Alicia Keys Says She Was ‘Manipulated’ During a ‘Sleazy’ Photoshoot

November 15, 2021

Alicia Keys is a talented singer, pianist, songwriter, and producer. She has gained respect and won countless awards for her contributions to music. However, the “Empire State of Mind” singer felt disrespected during a photoshoot with a photographer when she was 19 years old. Here’s what Keys once said about a magazine shoot that she says felt “sleazy.”

Alicia Keys admits she was a people pleaser

During an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, the interviewer tells Keys she seems to be a person who has always had a strong sense of self. However, Keys says she struggled with getting to that point. She also says she wasn’t initially aware that she didn’t know herself.

Keys says during the early part of her music career, she was a people pleaser. She often worked to the point where she was exhausted. “You start to think that you have to do everything that you could possibly do to make sure that these doors remain open for you,” says Keys in her CBS interview. She had trouble saying no, and she tried to make everyone happy.

However, she noticed she wasn’t doing what was best for her. “You’re just constantly ignoring your own feelings, your own emotions, your own intuition, your own instincts,” says Keys. She makes a habit of reminding herself to take care of herself.

Alicia Keys recalls feeling ‘manipulated’ during a photoshoot

Back in 2000, Keys appeared on one of her first magazine covers. She says in her book, More of Myself, she was excited about the opportunity because she was just breaking into the music industry, and it was important to have publicity.   

Keys says she immediately felt the photographer’s “vibe” after they shook hands. She got the sense that he was “strong and a bit pushy” after she shook his hand. Keys says as she was getting dressed for the shoot, the photographer asked her team to leave the room. The singer says everyone left, and it was just the two of them in the room.

According to Keys, the photographer asked her to open her shirt a little and pull the top of her jeans down in the front. Keys says she felt uncomfortable, but she pushed her concerns aside and did what the photographer asked her to do. She also reports feeling “objectified” and “manipulated” by the photographer’s actions. “My spirit is screaming that something is wrong, that this feels sleazy,” writes Keys.

Keys remained silent because she was afraid that she wouldn’t get other opportunities if she protested. She was new to the industry and didn’t want to be labeled as difficult to work with. She shares some of her internal dialogue with her readers. One of her thoughts was, “If I say no, what doors will be closed to me?”    

Alicia Keys won’t give her ‘power’ away

Keys promised herself that she will never let someone manipulate her into doing something she’s not comfortable with. “I swear I will never again let someone rob me of my power,” Keys declares in her book. She says it’s a promise she made to herself that she still works hard to keep today.

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