Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
December 31, 1969
Currently Known For:
December 31, 1969
“But I’ve got to get a move on with my life. It’s time to be a big girl now and big girls don’t cry…” From the all-female band Wild Orchid and the hip-hop group known as The Black Eyed Peas to a successful solo career, Fergie has certainly made a name for herself in the music business after first getting her start as a child actress on the popular television series, Kids Incorporated. Honing her talents as a singer and actress from an early age, Fergie spent several years with The Black Eyed Peas before she launched her solo career in September 2006 with her debut album, The Dutchess. The album was a massive success thanks to three Billboard Hot 100 top singles—“Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “London Bridge,” and “Glamorous.” Along the way, the outspoken and curvaceous California girl overcame addiction, found love with Hollywood heartthrob Josh Duhamel, and became a mother with the birth of son Axl Jack in 2013. With her recent separation from Duhamel in 2017, let’s check in on Fergie and learn more about her early career and her plans to co-parent with her longtime friend and former lover!
Long before she was belovedly known as “Fergie,” Stacy Ann Ferguson came into this world on March 27, 1975 in Hacienda Heights, California. Raised in a devout Roman Catholic home, she attended Mesa Robles Middle School where she was a straight-A student, a Girl Scout, cheerleader, and a spelling bee champion. Amid her success in school, she also studied dance and launched her career in the spotlight as a voiceover actress when she won the part of Sally in two made-for-television Peanuts cartoons—It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown (1984) and Snoopy’s Getting Married, Charlie Brown (1985).
“It was just really coming from Hacienda Heights and having to work for every penny that I’ve ever gotten, and having to work since I was a child,” Fergie later said of her humble upbringing and the worth ethic that has driven her success throughout her career. “I actually wanted to, but just always having that drive to really work hard and earning every cent that you get—then being appreciative of it and having that gratitude every step of the way.”
Fergie’s work ethic and natural talent earned her an even bigger opportunity in 1984 when she was invited to star on Disney’s newest television series, Kids Incorporated. Spending five years and six seasons on the show, she was the longest running cast member before the series ended in 1989. By then, Fergie already had another opportunity in front of her when she joined Stefanie Ridel and Renee Sandstrom to form the female music group Wild Orchid. Over the next two years, the group worked on their sound and met with countless recording executives before they were finally offered a contract with Sony Publishing only to sign with RCA Records in 1994.
At the time, the 18-year-old Fergie was overwhelmed with excitement and turned to a party-hard lifestyle that spiraled out of control as she went on a sex and drugs spree that led straight to addiction. “At my lowest point, I was suffering from chemically induced psychosis and dementia,” Fergie later said of her addiction to crystal meth. “I was hallucinating on a daily basis.” In fact, Fergie often hallucinated that the CIA, FBI, and SWAT teams were tracking her, which led her to find solace in a local Catholic church.
“They tried to kick me out, because I was moving down the aisles in this crazy way, as I thought there was an infrared camera in the church trying to check for my body,” Fergie recalled. “I bolted past the altar into a hallway and two people were chasing me. I remember thinking: ‘If I walk outside and the SWAT team is out there, I was right all along. But if they’re not out there, then it’s the drugs making me see things and I’m going to end up in an institution. And if it really is the drugs, I don’t want to live my life like this anymore, anyway.’ I walked out of the church, obviously there was no SWAT team. It was just me in a parking lot. It was a freeing moment.”
Amid her battle with addiction, Fergie’s career finally took off when Wild Orchid released their first single, “At Night I Pray,” in 1996. The single debuted on the Billboard charts and preceded the band’s self-titled debut album, which landed on the Billboard 200 and marked the height of the band’s success. Wild Orchid released their second album, Oxygen, in 1998, but it was a commercial flop. As a result, they focused on touring and opened up alongside Cyndi Lauper on Cher’s Do You Believe? Tour in 1999. When the record label refused to release their third album, Fergie left the group for bigger things as she struggled to get clean and get her life back on track.
In 2003, The Black Eyed Peas were working on their third album, Elephunk, when singer will.i.am invited Fergie to lend her vocals on the single, “Shut Up.” Fergie was a natural with the band and recorded five more singles with the group before she was offered a permanent spot with them on the stage. Coincidentally, Elephunk became a massive success thanks to singles like “Where is the Love?” and “Hey Mama.” Following the album’s success, the group released their next album, Monkey Business, which topped the Billboard 200 chart and boasted hit singles like “Pump It” and “Don’t Phunk with My Heart,” the latter of which earned the group a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
Amid her growing success with The Black Eyed Peas, Fergie launched her solo career in 2006 with her debut album, The Dutchess, which featured many songs about her personal struggles with addiction. Singles like “London Bridge,” “Fergalicious,” “Glamorous,” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” put Fergie on the map as a solo artist as she was named Blender magazine’s Woman of the Year and joined The Black Eyed Peas on the Black Blue & You World Tour in 2007. From there, the sky was the limit as she snagged supporting roles in films like Grindhouse (2007) and Nine (2009), the latter of which earned her and her castmates a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Around this time, she also began hosting Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve special for ABC.
“Having success every level of the way, each time it felt like another smile inside of myself, and another kind of exhale,” Fergie said of her growing fame and her incredible work ethic that constantly pushed her further. “Like, ‘Wow, I can retire my mom,’ and ‘Wow, I can build my dad a house.’ Just different things that I can help out with and with the family… It was like, now I can actually buy a coat and not feel guilty about it, you know it was different things. Whereas, with my family and having them benefit from it as well as myself—and to know, ‘Wow, I can actually put some money away and have a child one day and have some money for that.’”
Settling into her growing fortune and fame, Fergie has enjoyed ongoing success with The Black Eyed Peas thanks to chart-topping albums like The E.N.D. (The Energy Never Dies) (2009), The Beginning (2010), and Masters of the Sun, Vol. 1 (2018) featuring hit singles like “I Gotta Feeling,” “Meet Me Halfway,” and “Just Can’t Get Enough.” The band is also how she met actor Josh Duhamel in 2004 when they filmed a cameo for his hit series, Las Vegas. Instantly hitting it off, Fergie and Duhamel started dating and announced their engagement in December 2007. They married two years later in a Catholic ceremony on January 10, 2009. Fast forward four years and they welcomed their son, Axl Jack Duhamel, into the world on August 29, 2013.
Things seemed to be going well for Fergie as she announced she was working on her second studio album in late 2013 and later released the single, “L.A. Love (La La)” in 2014. On July 1, 2016, she released her next single, “M.I.L.F. $,” which turned heads as it tackled mommy shaming and even featured a cameo by Kim Kardashian. The idea, as it turns out, came from a play date. “Well, I’d taken Axl over to her house for a play-date with North,” Fergie said. “We were all eating dinner and I was playing Kim and Kanye my music. I looked at Kim as ‘MILF$’ was playing and the idea came into my head, so I just asked her. If you say the world ‘milf,’ Kim’s face and body would come up in a lot of people’s minds. It was just pretty obvious to me.”
With Kardashian on board, Fergie invited famous mothers like Ciara, Alessandra Ambrosio, Chrissy Teigen, Gemma War, Devon Aoki, Angela Lindvall, Isabeli Fontana, Amber Valleta, Natasha Poly, and Tara Lynn to appear in the video as lingerie-clad 1950s housewives. As many imagined, the video was a huge hit. “It’s making a statement, slapping down the rules, in a way that’s unapologetic and in your face. And I got to be cheeky with it, too,” Fergie said.
As Fergie continued working on her second album, she released the album’s third single, “Life Goes On,” and confirmed the album would hit shelves in 2017. However, before the album saw the public spotlight, Fergie’s personal life took center stage when she and Duhamel announced their separation earlier in the year on September 14, 2017. A week later, Double Dutchess hit store shelves.
“With absolute love and respect, we decided to separate as a couple earlier this year,” Fergie and Duhamel said in a joint statement to People magazine. “To give our family the best opportunity to adjust, we wanted to keep this a private matter before sharing it with the public. We are and will always be united in our support of each other and our family.”
Fergie later admitted that the separation came as a huge shock saying, “It wasn’t my plan. I wanted to stay married forever. I love Josh, he’s the father of my child… We forever have that project together and we’re doing the best we can.” Doing their best now means juggling their already busy schedules with co-parenting. “Thank the Lord for FaceTime,” Fergie admits. “Because both Josh and I are working full-time right now. It gets tough and we get tired, but we’re trying our hardest to make sure that kid feels nothing but love. I’m super proud of Josh. He just wrote and directed a movie called The Buddy Games—his first directing job—so now he’s in the editing bay. I’ve just released my first solo album in 11 years, and I’m promoting it. So, there’s a lot going on. That’s why we wanted to find our footing with our separation before we announced it publicly; to make sure we really got it together for our kid. It’s a constant juggling act.”
Continuing to juggle motherhood and fame, the 43-year-old Fergie makes it look incredibly easy especially as she takes on new projects. Although she confirmed she was taking a hiatus from The Black Eyed Peas to focus on her solo career, she’s spent a lot of time on television in 2018 after serving as a guest mentor on The Launch and as a guest co-host on The Talk. She’s most excited about her hosting gig on the new reality competition series, The Four: Battle for Stardom, which gives her a chance to show off her charm and sex appeal. Beyond that, Fergie is focused on what makes her happiest and that’s time with her son. “My life is now about being balanced,” she says. “I’m passionate about work and working out, seeing friends and family, and letting my hair down once in a while.”