Q: Being a single mom is tough on its own. How do you juggle music and a TV career on top of that?
A: It's about making the time I spend with Violet count. I'll take her to business meetings and interviews. Most people don't bring their kids to work with them, but I'm, like, "I make my own rules!"
Q: You're surrounded by strong women— your mom, Carmen, and your sisters Danielle and Liz. How do they help you as a parent?
A: I try to give Violet as much family time as possible, because it's her blood, and that's where we come from. That closeness has helped develop her amazing confidence. She's Cuban and African American, and I want her to understand her mixed race and be proud of it.
Q: How are you encouraging that pride?
A: I've taught her to be proud of her curls. I compliment her natural hair and show her the beauty in it. So when she sees the princess with the big blond braid in Frozen, I make sure she also sees [Quvenzhané Wallis's] fro in Annie. I've also gotten her cornrows, which is part of her culture.
Q: What Cuban customs are you passing down to her?
A: She loves Cuban music, and salsa dancing. She can wiggle those little hips! But food is probably the biggest thing that brings out our Cuban heritage. We sit down and have dinners together as a family. No TV! Cubans love to talk, and we're great storytellers.
Q: So do you cook, or does your abuelita?
A: My mom kills it in the kitchen, but my sisters and I all cook Cuban food too. My mom raised us knowing that some day, when you're with your man and you're able to make some bomb Cuban dishes, that would be our show-off piece. I make good picadillo with rice, black beans, and tostones.
Q: What lesson are you teaching Violet that you had to learn the hard way?
A: To not be fearful. Guilt comes into play when you're Latino. I grew up with a lot of that. At some point, you have to break the chains and not spend your life making decisions based on not wanting to disappoint your family.
Q: How tricky is dating as a mom?
A: Violet has a very involved dad [The-Dream], so she doesn't need anyone to replace him. But she is aware of the person I'm with now [Milian is reportedly seeing Lil Wayne]. He told Violet's dad that he's not only dating me, but that my daughter is part of the package. That proved to me that the relationship was worth my while.