Singer. Actress. Icon.
Over the last decade, few public figures have had the same level of influence on pop culture that we’ve seen surrounding Lady Gaga. Having first arrived onto the mainstream stage in 2008 with Just Dance, she’s since cycled through a number of different eras – each version of Gaga entirely different to the last.
However, there’s one side to herself that she’s been increasingly keen for the world to get to know over the last few years – the real Lady Gaga, Stefani Germanotta.
“‘My biggest enemy is Lady Gaga’,” she told CBS. “That’s what I was thinking. ‘My biggest enemy is Lady Gaga, what did you do’?”
“I totally gave up on myself. I hated being famous, I hated being a star. I felt exhausted and used up.”
It was 2020. Gaga was promoting her latest album, Chromatica, a vibrant return to form after the four-year-long gap following the 2016 release of her last album, Joanne. Despite its upbeat, electropop vibe, however, Chromatica told a deeper, darker story – the tale of Gaga’s struggles behind the scenes during this hiatus.
“‘You can’t go to the grocery store now’,” she continued, describing the thoughts that had haunted her at the time. “‘You can’t go to dinner with your family, someone always comes to the table. You can’t go to dinner with family without it being about you – it’s always about you, everything’s about you’.”
Fame was the facilitator for many of her lowest moments, she says, explaining that she was often made to feel like she belonged to the public domain.
“Most of the time, it is triggered by objectification.”
“If someone comes right up to me and puts a cellphone in my face and just starts taking pictures – total panic, full-body pain. It’s like I’m an object, I’m not a person.”
Having felt pushed to the edge, she took her experiences and emotions and poured them into her latest work. The immense pain Gaga felt is immediately clear within the lyrics found within the album.
911, she says, was a reference to the medication she took to deal with her intense panic attacks, singing ‘Pop a 911’. 1000 Doves see the singer beg ‘Please don’t judge me’ as she admits to feeling complete loneliness. The album’s most commercially successful track, Rain On Me, features the words ‘Gotta live my truth, not keep it bottled up, so I don’t lose my mind’ – fortunately, she seems to be doing just that.
“I could have done without the last two and a half years of my life,” she said, “But, you know what? It happens.”
With that, it seemed that she was finally ready to step back into the public eye – and what a spectacular way to do it. Less than a year on from the release of Chromatica, Gaga is returning to the big screen in the upcoming House Of Gucci, the latest film from award-winning director Ridley Scott.
“I don’t hate Lady Gaga anymore – I found a way to love myself again.”
She’ll be starring opposite Adam Driver and Jared Leto as she takes on the role of Patrizia Reggiani, wife of murdered Gucci heir Maurizio Gucci. The story – based on true events – follows the tumultuous marriage between the two, leading to Gucci’s eventual death at the hands of a hitman hired by his wife in 1995.
While not released until this November, the film is already incredibly highly-anticipated – no doubt in part due to Gaga’s involvement with the project. After all, it’s not yet three years since she astounded viewers across the globe with her starring role in A Star Is Born in 2018.
Starring alongside Bradley Cooper, who also directed the movie, Gaga left viewers enthralled with both her acting and musical performances throughout the project. Over the year following its release, the film received several major accolades. Gaga was even nominated for Best Actress at the 76th Academy Awards, where she went on to receive the award for Best Original Song for the soundtrack’s lead single, Shallow.
It was immediately clear to audiences the world over that Gaga’s talents aren’t simply musical – now it looks as though she’s about to remind everybody of the fact once again.
Perhaps it’s a sign that she’s come back around to the idea of fame, embracing that her position at the forefront of pop culture is a result of her immense talent. Interviewed by Good Morning America in the run-up to A Star Is Born’s release, she looked back on how she had approached her early rise to fame.
“I really believed in myself when I started out,” she explained, “I was like ‘I’m gonna do this’. I hit the ground running, I knocked on every door to play every club in New York City. I had something to say and I needed to say it.”
A message of self-love and self-belief is one that Gaga has always been keen to drive home to her millions of fans across the world. Alongside her mother, she runs the Born This Way Foundation, which ‘supports the mental health of young people and works with them to create a kinder, brighter world’.
Having a part in the movement towards a kinder future, she says, is what she wants to be remembered for.
“I have my unique existence, just as everyone else does, and at the end of the day, it’s our humanity that connects us,” she told Vogue, “Our bodies and our biology. That’s what breeds compassion and empathy, and those are the things that I care the most about. Kindness!”
“It can drive you mad. Someone very important in my life says to me often, ‘You cannot stare at the carnage all day’. I think you have to stare at the carnage to an extent because if not, you’re being ignorant and complacent – to not view injustice and want to be a part of advocating for others.”
“But once we just look each other in the eyes, if we can keep that contact, that contract, I think the world will be a better place.”
Above all else, it seems that this is Lady Gaga’s most important descriptor of all. Singer, actress, icon – and an tirelessly vocal advocate for a kinder world.
House Of Gucci is released in cinemas on November 26th 2021.
To learn more about the work of the Born This Way Foundation, visit the organisation’s website.