Twenty years ago, Whitney Houston stood as a larger-than-life celebrity, promising actress and one half of the most controversial marriage in pop culture. She sat down with Barbara Walters in 1993 to discuss her life in a 15-minute segment proving itself more revealing and poignant in the present than it was two decades earlier.
The image of Whitney I’ve always had pictured in my head was a round-the-way girl from New Jersey who just happened to have an extremely rare, global talent. Hence the reason why her perceived “acting out” was never much of a surprise. She appeared to be comfortable in her own skin, despite actions or statements representing a complete 180 from the image Clive Davis help craft through her music. Such wasn’t necessarily a negative trait when harnessed properly, but coincidentally became more difficult to defend as media scrutiny and her foray into substance abuse allegedly increased.
A then-infant Bobbi Kristina receives brief camera time, as does Bobby Brown who refutes any notion their respective images played a role in influencing their marriage.
She dubbed 1993 “pick on Whitney year.” And it’s evident with Walters she was initially resistant to shed light onto the most personal details of her life including an alleged overdose on diet pills in 1992 and the miscarriage she experienced while filming The Bodyguard. The “I hate fame” argument from celebrities is a common defense mechanism when negative press trumps coddling. Houston appears authentic grappling fame with talent – in this specific interview at least – when she claims, “But it was never like I wanted to be a star. I just wanted to sing. I wanted to do what was in my soul, what was in my heart. But this other madness, they say that comes with the territory. That’s a hell of a territory.”
Whitney Houston was blessed with arguably the most powerful voice in the history of music. The harmony of 12 angels, if you will. Twenty years later, with Whitney no longer around in the physical, we somewhat know now what this interview began to paint on the surface.
Even as her songs dominated charts and movies spawned into cult classics, being Whitney Elizabeth Houston was never easy.