Diddy and Mario's leading lady Cassie

New London, Connecticut beauty Cassie began her modeling career at the age of 12, and has since been featured in Missy Elliott’s Respect M.E. Adidas campaign and played Mario’s leading lady in his video “Here I Go Again”. Last year music producer Ryan Leslie brought her into his NextSelection fold, letting the world know her voice is just as lovely as her face. Now with Tommy Mottola, Diddy and all of MySpace.com paying attention you know she is a Player to Watch.

For Cassie, being different has always been a part of life. With a Filipino father and a mother who is half West Indian Black and Mexican, she remembers having difficulty finding where to fit in as a child.

“Until middle school I had perfectly straight black hair and dark skin, most people thought I was Latina or Hawaiian and just didn’t believe that I was Black at all. By middle school going through puberty, my hair changed-it got curly, frizzy and with my little Asian face, I was sad to say, pretty awkward looking,” Cassie told SOHH.com.

I feel that if you’re given the opportunity to be an ‘idol’ as they say, you better do it right.Cassie is currently signed to Bad Boy Records through NextSelection, the company run by Ryan Leslie, who Cassie met a little over a year and a half ago in New York.

“I recorded my first song “Kiss Me” with Ryan back in February of 2005 for my Mom’s birthday. I went to meet up with Ryan at his label at the time, Casablanca, and while I was sitting in the waiting area I could hear “Kiss Me”in the next office. He was playing it for the President of the label, Tommy Mottola,” Cassie remembers. “Man, I was so embarrassed! Anyway I went in the office and I got a demo deal to sign with Casablanca. Pretty crazy. Time went by and after finishing my demos, Tommy decided that he wanted to manage me instead, so we went through that process. Suddenly I found myself with two great deals on the table and we went with Bad Boy.”

Ryan Leslie is one of Diddy’s behind the scenes producers, whose credits include work on the “Making The Band 3” project, as well as tracks for Beyonce, Britney Spears and New Edition, among others.

“It’s good because there is already a good relationship there and Puffy respects Ryan and his work,” Cassie says.

With plans to release her first album later this year, Cassie’s single “Me & You” is already getting major spins on radio and in clubs throughout the U.S. and abroad.

One of the remarkable things about Cassie’s breakthrough is that nearly all of her promotion has been online. Over two million people alone have tuned into her MySpace page to hear her music, gaining her over 55,000 MySpace friends, in addition to the fans who catch up regularly with Cassie on her blog.

Yet even with a solid team and a strong fan base backing her, Cassie acknowledges that being a woman in a male dominated industry can be disheartening at times.

“I have let it get to me a few times, but I’ve realized that at the end of the day, you don’t have to do what they say. Yes, I’m tied into contracts with money, but if I’m not comfortable for any reason, there are women that have my back. I’ve learned and decided over the past few months that no matter how hard it gets with ‘those guys,’ not just my management, but any man involved in my project, that I’m the only one that can make it hard for me. Everything else is just my imagination.”

Still being a woman has meant making certain choices for Cassie.

“I don’t think I’m going to do any more music videos except for my own, maybe only if it’s a friend. There really is this negativity attached to being a ‘video girl,’ meaning some random chick in a male artist’s video. I know, because I’m around the men that talk about it. Once you shake your ass in a rappers video, you’re a whore, a groupie or a slut. You know that whisper, ‘oh she’ll do anything to be in this industry.’ Sometimes that’s just what it is and it sucks. A lot of girls are talented, but they just don’t know how to do it. I only did the Mario video because I knew I’d be the only other person in it. It just makes it a little more real instead of an orgy.”

While the entertainment industry often gets a bad rap for the way women are depicted, Cassie feels part of her job involves changing that perception.

“Personally, I believe that my job is just as important as any other woman’s job. I feel like entertainers can set an example. I want to be the person that kids listen to when they won’t listen to their parents. Not in a negative way, but in a progressive way. I obviously know what it’s like to be a teenager because I am one; I’ve just grown up really fast for someone my age. I feel that if you’re given the opportunity to be an ‘idol’ as they say, you better do it right. Being able to look up to someone when you’re younger is a must, not to be them but to learn from the good and the bad in them. I hope that young girls learn from my mistakes.”

Cassie’s Play-o-graphy
Projects
Missy Elliott Adidas campaign
Target Billboard in Times Square and various commercials
Abercrombie and Fitch
Phat Farm Men’s fragrance campaign – “The funny thing is that you may not see my face in it. They did shots with it and others with my back to the camera. It’s about the man though, so that’s understandable-at least when it comes out I can say, ‘Hey, that’s my back!”
Delia’s catalogue Cover Girl
Clean & Clear Commercial
First Album due out Summer/Fall 06 through NextSelection/Bad Boy

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