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“It’s surreal,” Ashanti told Billboard, moments after unveiling her star and taking photos with longtime friends and collaborators Tichina Arnold and Ja Rule. “I’m shocked, stunned and over the top grateful. This is a staple in my career and the fact that it will be here forever is a big deal.”
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The historic honor comes 20 years after the release of Ashanti’s self-titled debut studio album, which premiered at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and charted for 55 weeks. The Grammy-winner and actress has since released 18 Hot 100 tracks, including two No. 1 hits.
“I’m not a super emotional person, so the fact that I cried a little bit today is a little weird for me,” Ashanti said with a laugh. “I’m so humbled and overjoyed to have friends, family and genuine people here supporting me that I love.”
In addition to Arnold and Ja Rule, Ashanti was surrounded by her parents, Tina and Ken-Kaide Thomas Douglas, sister Kenashia Douglas, Lupita Cornejo, Simone Smith, her team, many loved ones and fans. All of whom she thanked during her acceptance speech, naming her parents as her lifeline and family as her foundation.
“The fact that my mom spoke this into existence is surreal,” the star explained. “She really had that feeling as a mother to say, ‘My child is gonna get this.’ She manifested it and I’m forever grateful.”
Previously, Ashanti’s mom showed onlookers a photo of the star she had originally created for her daughter. “I didn’t know she still has that star,” Ashanti said proudly.
“I’m grateful to the [Hollywood Chamber of Commerce] for doing this because as artists, we put so much into it, so many sacrifices, so to feel like we’re being rewarded with something that [lasts] forever is an honor.”
As for having the support of her famous friends Arnold and Ja Rule, Ashanti told Billboard, “Those are my people. Ja is my brother, we’ve made history together and it wouldn’t be the same without him.”
The pair’s 2001 song “Always On Time” became a No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit and charted for 27 weeks.
Ashanti and Arnold first bonded while performing together on The Wiz. “With Tichina, it was so important to have a Black woman representing and continuing that narrative of women empowerment.”
After Ashanti’s star ceremony, family and friends joined her for an intimate, lavish lunch at Tatel Beverly Hills, presented by PrettyLittleThing, where many shared heartfelt words about the Billboard Music Award-winner — and hilarious stories.
After listening to the kind words and fun memories, Ashanti shared a message of her own. “My family has been my backbone from the beginning. I didn’t wake up and say ‘I wanna be a star or singer,’ it happened accidentally. But being in this business for so many years has taught me so much.”
She went on to thank God and her supporters as she briefly became emotional again. “I’ve had a lot of people betray and stab me and I’ve been naive, so to be here enjoying this moment, I appreciate you for believing in me.”
“Without the machine behind me, I would not be here,” Ashanti continued. “I’m able to live out my dream. This star symbolizes that I kinda did something right.”
Watch Ashanti’s Hollywood Walk of Fame Star Ceremony below: