Demi Lovato on Nov. 2013 cover of Teen Vogue issue. On playing Santana’s love interest on Glee: ‘I’m honored to portray a character that’s representing this chapter in our society. Being true to your sexuality and yourself is becoming the norm.’
On self-acceptance: ‘I don’t have the body of a model or Barbie. My main thing about being in the spotlight with my fans is, I want to be real to them. I have my problem areas, but I’m happy in my skin right now. I’m not going to sacrifice my mental health to have the perfect body.’
On learning to speak up for herself: ‘You’ve gotta be honest with people around you. And honest with yourself. When you’re having a rough day, be like, ‘I don’t want to talk about this, but I need to get it off my chest.’ If you have a secret, secrets make you sick.’
On what she looks for in boyfriend: ‘Someone who loves me and appreciates me for who I am. Who I can hang out with in sweatpants and no makeup, because that’s what I do when I have my time off.’
On finally finding happiness: ‘It may seem boring to other people, but my whole life I’ve lived at a really intense level, whether it’s fame or this or that. I’ve always worked really hard. Now I’ve gotten to the place where I’m healthy, happy. And my family is happy and healthy. When I do have free time, I love just sitting here and inviting people over and watching movies, or going to the movies. It’s a big night for me if I go bowling.’
Step inside Demi Lovato’s Los Angeles apartment and you’ll find yourself face-to-face with a giant horse. Seriously. A six-foot-something statue of a white stallion stands against a wall of glass in the living room. “I saw a smaller horse in a store window somewhere,” Demi says, “and I was like, ‘That’s so chic. I need that horse statue.'” When her interior decorator miraculously found one just like it, Demi decided it was fate. She calls him Henry the Horse, and he stands guard proudly.
Dressed in a sweatshirt for a lazy afternoon, with a comfy blanket keeping her legs warm, the star gives me a tour of her new place without getting off the deep, plush couch— custom-made, naturally, and perfect for late-night viewings of favorites like Orange is the New Black and Homeland. The 21-year-old singer-actress-do-everything-girl moved into the sky-high pad only a few months ago, but it already feels like home. It’s that perfect mash-up of Old Hollywood glamour and girly-girl styling, complete with kitschy touches like an oversize pink Andy Warhol– esque painting of Marilyn Monroe that hangs in the dining room. The elevator opens directly into the apartment—a baller feature she instantly fell for.
“My only thinking was, Is it too fancy?” Demi says, temporarily distracted by her black and gold nail art. “Then I realized, Who the hell are you talking to? I’m from Texas—there’s no such thing as too over-the-top!” She’d first considered buying a house, but with her often-insane work schedule, the luxury high-rise experience seemed like a better fit. “I’m transitioning into being an adult,” she says. “I don’t want to take care of a whole house.”
That very public adult transition—from Disney princess to mega-selling songstress and full-time role model—hasn’t always been smooth, but whose teenage years ever are? What’s more remarkable is how Demi is overcoming addiction, eating issues, and cutting with grace and sincerity, choosing to live out loud in interviews and in her music. When you think about it, her put-it-all-out-there honesty has made her the perfect ambassador for our post-everything Instagram generation. Naturally her twelfth (and most recent) tattoo says Now I’m a warrior. What else could it say?
Demi’s career is at its highest point yet. Her self-titled fourth album is a must-have compilation of power pop, featuring inescapable singles like “Made in the USA” and “Heart Attack” (which has been downloaded close to 2 million times, not counting the millions more impressions on Vevo). Her online profile spiked this summer as she cracked Billboard’s Social 50, peaking at number two—her best position to date. She’s also conquering old-school media, dishing it out weekly on The X Factor as the whip-smart foil to a perma-cranky Simon Cowell. This season Demi appears in six episodes of Glee (following in the footsteps of A-list guest stars like Gwyneth Paltrow) as a new flame not for one of the boys but for Santana, played by Naya Rivera.
“I’m honored to portray a character that’s representing this chapter in our society,” she says of her on-screen sapphic fling. “Being true to your sexuality and yourself is becoming the norm.” As for what it’s like to kiss the gorgeous Naya? Flustered, Demi giggles. “Um, I mean, I guess it’s good?” she says. Somehow she’s also found time to write a book, the inspirational Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year (out this fall) and collaborate with the cosmetics company The New Black on a capsule collection of nail polish. That willingness to throw herself into her work is even more notable considering she lost her father earlier this year. Teary-eyed, she appeared on Good Morning America to announce the launch of The Lovato Treatment Scholarship, aimed at helping those battling mental health and addiction issues, in his honor.
It’s an interesting time to sit down with Demi—in her first real grown-up apartment, no less, living on her own and on her own terms. Talk to her for an hour and you’ll see she’s still very much figuring out who she is—as we all are!—while coming at life with a newfound hunger. (See her tweets about rock climbing.) Demi’s closet, which awesomely takes up an entire room of her pad, is a mix of high and low, with pieces from Topshop hanging next to Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen. As for “that country Southern-girl look” we saw her experiment with before, she says, “I loved it, but it’s not who I am today.”
When asked to define her style now, she says confidently: “edgy, chic, and a lot of leather.” For a sure sign of the push-pull she faces—of feeling like an adult in a world that sometimes still wants to treat her like a child—look no further than her nails. Or, rather, the nails on her middle fingers. In the tiniest letters imaginable appear a word not fit for print. (Hint: It rhymes with buck.) “I thought it was cheeky,” she says coyly of the supertiny expletive. Yes, she’s pushing boundaries in small ways—but she’s not trying to stir up controversy by, say, twerking in her underwear.