Back in 2006, Asia Nitollano was just a single mom from the Bronx. It all changed this week, when she was crowned the winner of the CW’s Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll, a reality show competition designed to find a seventh member for the cult burlesque troupe. ”There wasn’t anybody out there like them,” the New York Knicks dancer says of the Dolls. ”They’re so confident, so sexy.” After surviving weeks of round-the-clock cameras, performance challenges, and all-out catfights, the bubbly 19-year-old scratched and clawed her way to the top of the heap. She called EW.com the day after her big win to talk about the future, her daughter, and the skeletons hidden in her musical closet.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Were you surprised that you won?
ASIA NITOLLANO: I couldn’t believe it. I honestly knew it could be any one of us. I was just hoping, ”Let this be my chance, let this be my moment.” And when they called my name, it was just, ”You’re kidding me.” I wanted to be like, ”Where’s my mom?” I couldn’t wait to tell everybody. I always told my grandmother — she passed away — that ”I’m gonna make it, and I’m gonna buy you a house, and I’m gonna be famous.”
Have you talked to the Dolls at all this week?
I haven’t really spoken to the girls. They’re on tour with Christina [Aguilera], so it’s kind of been hard with me doing the show and everything. But when I won, it was all love. I can’t wait to meet up with them all.
And are you in touch with Robin Antin [the Dolls’ founder]?
She’s the sweetest. She’s like a mother to all the girls on the show. And she cared about each and every one of us. She’s always text-messaging me, asking how I am and stuff.
Does your daughter know about the Pussycat Dolls?
She’ll be 2 next month. She knows ”Dontcha” by heart. She sings it all the time. She’s a dancer and a singer… She’s the next Pussycat Doll, I’m telling you. She’s gonna be the Pussycat Doll baby, start her own little group.
Are you still living in New York City?
I’m representing New Yorkers again! I met Jennifer Lopez. I love her. We both come from the Bronx and danced with the same dance company. [I’m] the next Asia from the block!
How was the show different from what you were expecting?
I really thought it was just gonna be dancing and singing the whole time. I didn’t know there was going to be as much interaction, and it was crazy, living with a bunch of girls and being away from my baby. There’s so much more to it than just a competition. It was a television show first, more than anything. I don’t think they gave me much of a personality!
I’ll bet it’s nice to be free of the always-present CW cameras.
It was weird having them following you around, but after a week, you’re over it. It seems normal now [but] you just want them to leave you alone sometimes.
Tell us something we don’t know about Asia.
I wanted to rap. In high school, I’d try to make up rap songs, and all the girls would laugh at me. But I feel in my heart I was kinda serious about it.
What’s your next step?
I have to wait till [the other six Dolls] finish the Christina tour. But I’m gonna be meeting with a label in a few weeks. I’m just enjoying the moment right now. I’m just gonna be a mom. I’m excited to make music. That’s my life. That’s what I’ve been working so hard for. I’m proud that I never gave up.