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Raven-Symone: 'I'm not a little kid anymore'

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  • Raven-Symone continues to branch out from acting: She sings, produces
  • Raven-Symone: "I don't talk about my personal life a lot"
  • Performer, now 22, tries not to let criticism of her body bother her
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ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- Even though Raven-Symone can now add movie producer to her long list of accomplishments, some people still perceive her as just a little girl.

Raven-Symone

Raven-Symone has a new album out and is planning to go on tour later this year.

But the former "That's So Raven" star is trying to show she's graduated from the child phenom role, and has more substance to her than the animated character that's still endlessly shown, via reruns, on the television screen.

One way Raven-Symone believes she can do so is through her music.

"I just want people to see that I'm not a little kid anymore," the 22-year-old said in a recent interview while on a rehearsal break for her nationwide tour. It was supposed to kick off this spring but was scrapped for what an AEG Live concert promoter would only call "unforeseen circumstances."

Despite her tour setback, Raven-Symone just released her new self-titled album last month. Some of the tracks are uptempo songs like her first single, "Double Dutch Bus," but she also dips into her personal matters, such as a tough relationship on "Love Me Or Leave Me."

"When I was recording it, I was crying because I don't like putting my business out there," she said.

While she is known through her TV and movie credits as the bubbly, outgoing type, she describes herself as an individual who would rather keep her experiences away from work to herself.

She avoids the spotlight and gossip headlines by not going to the same places as other celebs. For the most part, she stays at home to either play video games like "Heavenly Sword," watch the cartoon comedy "South Park" or spend time on her how-to Web site for teens.

"I don't talk about my personal life a lot, because it's not for everybody's knowledge," she said. "But that is what grows people up. Even when I talk about it, I get antsy."

Raven-Symone credits working with a slew of hitmaking songwriters and producers, ranging from Sean Garrett to Timbaland, with helping her unleash her inner thoughts on her CD.

"We tried to keep it on the lines of having fun," said Ezekiel Lewis of the Clutch, a songwriting group that produced "Keep A Friend" and "Double Dutch Bus," a remix of the 1981 funk song by Frankie Smith. "When it came down to it, she got it done. She wanted to express her feelings and she did."

One of the more personal songs on the CD is "Hollywood Life," about the struggles of becoming famous, dealing with the pitfalls of loneliness and weight loss.

"There are so many girls who are trying to be famous, and trying to conform to a style or body type," Raven-Symone said. "But they are fine just the way they are.

"This is a something that a lot of people need to hear."

If there's anyone in music or acting who should understand, it is Raven-Symone. The entertainer has read blogger comments chastising her about her full figure, but she tries not to let the criticism bother her.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, except in Hollywood: It's whoever says what is beautiful," she claimed. "So everyone follows. For me, I'm fine with how I am. I'm not trying to be a certain size."

Since the age of 2, Raven-Symone (her full name is Raven-Symone Pearman) has been in the limelight: Her big break was as the cute-as-a-button Olivia on "The Cosby Show" when she was just 3. After that show went off the air, she starred in the comedy series "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper" before getting her starring gig as the teen with psychic powers in the Disney smash "That's So Raven."

A star of the "Doctor Dolittle" movies with Eddie Murphy, she recently co-starred in and was executive producer for the movie "College Road Trip" with Martin Lawrence. Raven-Symone has also participated in The Cheetah Girls' films and its soundtracks, which have sold over 3 million copies total.

But the Disney Channel star has failed to duplicate those successful numbers on her last three solo albums, selling no more than 300,000 copies in all. Her latest debuted at No. 162 on the charts with only about 4,400 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Some may wonder why Raven-Symone continues to make records, rather than focus on her other successful endeavors. Ebony magazine dubbed her the "The $400 Million Woman," referring to how much money the "That's So Raven" franchise has made.

"I have a lot to say," Raven-Symone said. "I love to perform and touch my audience. When you have a movie or TV show, you are not able to touch them the same way. I don't think music will never be apart from my life."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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