Cassie Ventura

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Cassie Ventura
Cassie at the premiere of Step Up 2: The Streets, 2008
Born
Casandra Elizabeth Ventura

(1986-08-26) August 26, 1986 (age 37)
Occupations
  • Singer
  • dancer
  • actress
  • model
Years active2004–present
Spouse
Alex Fine
(m. 2019)
Children2
Modeling information
Height1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)[1]
Eye colorBrown
AgencyWilhelmina
Musical career
Genres
Labels

Casandra Elizabeth Ventura (born August 26, 1986), known mononymously as Cassie, is an American singer, dancer, actress, and model. Born in New London, Connecticut, she began her musical career after meeting producer Ryan Leslie in late 2004, who signed her to his record label, NextSelection Lifestyle Group. In 2006, Ventura released her debut single "Me & U", which was discovered by rapper Sean "Diddy" Combs. Leslie agreed to partner his NextSelection imprint with Combs' Bad Boy Records for the commercial release of her debut album. The song marked the first of her two entries on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number three by July 2006.[5]

With "Me & U" issued as its lead single, Ventura's self-titled debut studio album was released in August 2006, peaking at number four on the Billboard 200.[6] In 2008, Ventura released the single "Official Girl", featuring Lil Wayne. In 2009, she released the singles "Must Be Love", featuring Diddy, and "Let's Get Crazy", featuring Akon. She signed with Interscope Records to release her debut mixtape RockaByeBaby in 2013, which was promoted by the music videos for its singles "Numb", featuring Rick Ross, and "Paradise", featuring Wiz Khalifa.[7]

Ventura signed with modeling agency Wilhelmina Models early in her career, and later One Management. She has modeled for Calvin Klein[8] and has been featured in magazines including GQ, Seventeen,[9] and Bust. She was the face of ASOS's 2013 spring collection.[10] Ventura has starred in advertising for Delia's, Adidas, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Clean & Clear.[11] She has appeared in films such as Step Up 2: The Streets (2008) and The Perfect Match (2016).

Early life

Casandra Elizabeth Ventura was born on August 26, 1986, in New London, Connecticut.[12][13][better source needed] Her mother is of African-American, Mexican and West Indian descent. Her father is Filipino.[14] She attended The Williams School, a preparatory school, located on the Connecticut College campus.[15] At age 14, Cassie began modeling and by 16 was modeling for local department stores, Delia's fashion catalog and Seventeen.[13][15][16] Cassie briefly appeared in R&B singer Mario's "Just a Friend 2002" music video.[17]

Encouraged by producer Rockwilder, Ventura took vocal lessons, modern ballet, as well as using her school's performing arts program.[15] She finished high school in 2004 and moved to New York City, where she returned to modeling and classes at the Broadway Dance Center.[15] She began booking print and commercial modeling gigs and being represented by Wilhelmina Models.[18]

Career

2004–2007: Cassie

Ryan Leslie spotted Cassie at clubs and parties in late 2004 frequently.[15][19] The two wrote a duet called "Kiss Me", and after recording the track, Leslie played the song for music executive Tommy Mottola.[15][19] Mottola offered Cassie a management deal, and Leslie signed her to NextSelection Lifestyle Group.[20][21] Leslie wrote and produced Cassie's first single, "Me & U", in 2005. The song became a club hit in Germany.[13] During this time, Diddy heard "Me & U" in a club, and Leslie convinced him to partner his Bad Boy Records with Leslie's NextSelection imprint for the release of Cassie's debut album.[13]

Cassie in 2007

Ryan Leslie produced most of the album, which is a mix of R&B, hip hop and pop. Ventura said in an interview, "I rap, I sing, I do my R&B, I do my slow songs and stuff that the girls will love, I have a down South joint, I have a rock song that I did with my girls this band called Pretty Boys."[22] She paid tribute to her Filipino culture by incorporating OPM sounds into some of the ballads. The album, Cassie, was released on August 8, 2006, and sold 321,000 copies in the United States.[23] The album's lead single "Me & U" peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, selling more than 1 million digital downloads.[24]

To promote her album, Ventura performed on Total Request Live and 106 & Park: BET's Top 10 Live. Her performances were described as "rocky" and "less-than-stellar", but Combs said that it was due to her inexperience.[25] He said that he would be "with her through her development", and that he has no "question on her ability [to sing]".[25] Ventura addressed the events on her MySpace page, saying that she is aware that her performances were "pretty bad", and that she was "still getting over stage fright".[25]

MTV News reported in June 2007 that contrary to rumors, Ventura had not been dropped from Bad Boy Records after releasing two singles from her self-titled debut album. Combs said that she was in the studio working with producers Kanye West and Pharrell Williams on her second album.[26] It was reported that Ventura was no longer collaborating with Ryan Leslie, who had produced the majority of her debut album.[27] Ventura later stated that she was open to collaborating with Leslie again.[28] According to Bad Boy A&R Daniel 'Skid' Mitchell, rather than largely relying on the one songwriter-producer, the new album's mix of writers and producers, as well as her own co-write input, makes it a more personal record for her.[29]

Additional production on the album came from Seven and LV, as well as Combs himself.[30] Ventura said that she had collaborated with Akon, The Neptunes, Danja, Eric Hudson, The Surf Club and Rob Holiday, although she was not sure which tracks were going to be included on the album.[28] Commenting on the number of producers on the album, Ventura said that she "collaborated with a lot of different producers and a lot of different writers, which was an amazing opportunity for me, because on my first album, one producer [Ryan Leslie] straight through... which was fun, but it was nice to experience other people."[31]

2008–2013: Acting debut and RockaByeBaby

Cassie in 2009

In 2008, Ventura made her acting debut as Sophie Donovan in the dance film Step Up 2: The Streets, she also sang the lead single "Is It You" to the Step Up soundtrack. The song was released on November 13, 2007,[32] and peaked at eighty-five on the Canadian Hot 100[33] and fifty-two in the UK's The Official Charts Company.[34] In July 2009, Ventura announced that her second studio album's title would be Electro Love.[28] Ventura said that her new album will demonstrate more "independence"; there will be a "difference in vocals, a little bit more personality. And it's definitely a sensual album".[35] Three singles have been released from the album; "Official Girl" featuring Lil Wayne in August 2008, "Must Be Love" featuring Diddy in April 2009, and "Let's Get Crazy" featuring Akon in August 2009. All three singles failed to chart in the United States.[27]

After several delays, it was announced in December 2009 that Ventura had signed a new record deal with Interscope Records.[36] She is featured in a spread in the August/September issue of Bust in which she said a new single will be released in the fall. At the time of an October 2010 interview with HitQuarters, A&R Daniel 'Skid' Mitchell said that Ventura had already recorded around fifty songs for the album. Mitchell said that she was taking her time over the album because she is keen for "it to be something that people are going to respect".[29] She appeared in rapper Wiz Khalifa's "Roll Up" music video as his love interest.

Ventura released the single "King of Hearts", which was released in the United States on February 14, 2012, along with the official music video.[37] On April 24, 2012, Ventura performed the single live for the first time at BET's 106 & Park music video show. She concluded the performance with a brief dance number set to the Kanye West remix of the song, along with four dancers. After the performance Cassie and 106 & Park were worldwide trending topics on Twitter and it received mostly mixed to positive reviews from various online media outlets.[38] The single, "Balcony", featuring Young Jeezy, was sent to U.S. urban radio stations on September 18, 2012.[39]

On September 13, 2012, Nicki Minaj released the debut single off her re-release album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded – The Re-Up, titled "The Boys", featuring Ventura.[40] The song was sent to urban radios on September 25. A music video was released on October 18.[41]

In July 2012, Ventura announced that she had been working simultaneously on her album and a new mixtape titled RockaByeBaby.[42][43] It was released on April 11, 2013,[44] and was named the best mixtape of the year by Dazed & Confused.[45] The mixtape saw the release of "Numb" featuring American rapper Rick Ross on April 2, along with the song's accompanying music video[46] and "Paradise" featuring rapper Wiz Khalifa premiered on April 9, 2013, alongside the video on BET 106 & Park.[47][48][49] In April 2013 it was announced that Ventura was the face of the Summer 2013 Forever 21 collection.[50]

2015–2019: Second studio album and other endeavors

In March 2015, Ventura's boyfriend, rapper-producer Combs, announced he would return to producing and revealed he would be producing songs for Ventura's second studio album.[51] In 2016 it was announced Ventura would return to acting, playing the lead role in the romantic comedy The Perfect Match. It was released on March 11, 2016.[52] In late 2017, she released the singles "Love a Loser" featuring American rapper G-Eazy[53] and "Don't Play It Safe".[54]

In January 2019, after ending her relationship with Combs and leaving Bad Boy Records, Ventura worked with producers Chris n Teeb and singer-songwriter Ro James.[55] Throughout Summer 2019, Ventura released several singles via her own Ventura Music label: "Moments" with The Code, "Excuses," "Hungover", "Don't Let Go", "Speaking Of", "Rollercoaster" featuring Ro James, "Teach Me" and "Simple Things". The series of releases was dubbed "Free Fridays" by Ventura and serve as a teaser ahead of the release of her second album.[56][57][58][59][60][61][62]

Artistry and public image

Cassie in 2012

Cassie's music is described as R&B, pop, and hip hop soul. Andy Kellman of AllMusic praised her vocal performances for having "character and ability".[63] Ventura cites Aaliyah, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Nine Inch Nails, Britney Spears, La Lupe, Mariah Carey, Faith Evans and Usher as musical influences. Cassie refers to herself as a "die-hard Janet Jackson fan", continuing to say "I'd love to emulate Janet Jackson's career—totally, Janet Jackson is an incredible and fantastic, from her moves to her voice".[64][65]

Ventura's debut album is R&B and pop rock with urban and contemporary R&B styles, the album contained "looming synthesizer patterns" and "ice-cream-truck melody to give it a slightly twisted and threatening edge", as well as containing "flippant playfulness".[63] RockaByeBaby is an R&B and hip hop mixtape that featured "dark"[66] and a "raw, laid back vibe".[67]

Ventura is considered a style icon due to her "edgy style"[68] and "feminine" and "sophisticated" fashion. Ventura is accredited with setting the trend among women of shaving their hair, after Ventura shaved hers in 2009 influenced by punk.[69] She has cited Kate Moss as her style influence.[47]

Personal life

Ventura married personal trainer Alex Fine in September 2019.[70] The couple have two daughters, born December 2019 and March 2021.[71][72]

Ventura was in a long-term relationship with Sean "Diddy" Combs from 2007 to 2018.[73][74] On November 16, 2023, she filed a lawsuit against Combs alleging that he subjected her to a decade-long "cycle of abuse, violence and sex trafficking."[75][76][77] The lawsuit was filed in the Federal District Court in Manhattan under the Adult Survivors Act, a New York law which allows people who say they were victims of sexual abuse to file lawsuits after the statute of limitations has expired.[75] Ventura claimed that the abuse began when their relationship started and that this included a 2018 rape after she tried to leave him, and multiple instances of domestic violence.[75]

Combs' attorney Ben Brafman denied the allegations.[75] One day after filing the lawsuit, the parties announced they had reached an agreement to resolve the case, and did not disclose terms of the out-of-court settlement.[78] In May 2024, CNN obtained and published a video of Combs grabbing Ventura, punching her and then throwing her to the ground and kicking her and stomping on her in a hotel hallway in 2016.[79] This led to Combs issuing a video apology where he acknowledged the incident.[80][81]

Discography

Filmography

Film performances
Year Title Role Notes
2003 Barbarian Harem Direct-to-video
2008 Step Up 2: The Streets Sophie
2016 The Perfect Match Eva
2016 Honey 3: Dare to Dance Melea Martin Direct-to-video
2020 Spenser Confidential Elise Uncredited
TBA The Lemonade Files: An Untold Story of the Missing Shoes Flapper Girl 2 Post-production
Television performances
Year Title Role Notes
2018 Empire Haven Quinn 2 episodes
2022 Hip Hop Family Christmas Wedding Jai Turner Television film

Awards and nominations

Year Organization Award Work Result
2007 NRJ Music Awards International Revelation of the Year[82] Herself Nominated
2007 ASCAP Pop Music Awards Most Performed Songs[83] "Me & U" Won
2012 MVPA Awards Best Direction of a Female Artist[84] "King of Hearts" Nominated
2012 MVPA Awards Best R&B Video[85] "King of Hearts" Won
2013 MVPA Awards Best Art Direction[86] "The Boys" Nominated
2017 Toyota Bold Awards Beauty Bombshell of the Year[87] Herself Won

References

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Further reading

External links