Those who follow Lady Gaga already know she is one incredibly multifaceted person. She morphs and changes as rapidly as a chameleon, underscoring her vast talents and enhancing her already dynamic appeal as a musician, actress, fashion maven, activist, and philanthropist.
It was late last year that the nine-time Grammy Award winner (and recipient of a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award) began her Las Vegas residency at the Park Theater in the Park MGM resort. Even this she did differently. Where most stars offer a single show several nights a week, Lady Gaga performs two totally different shows each week: Lady Gaga Enigma and Lady Gaga Jazz & Piano.
One would be hard-pressed to decide which of her shows is better, because both offer unique glimpses into the daring and provocative artist. Created by Gaga and her team, the Enigma show is an extravagant mix of her top songs, complete with dancing, theatrical staging, and soul-searching discussions with a sci-fi-like figure called Enigma (which is actually Gaga reimagined). For the Jazz & Piano show, Gaga dresses the part, wearing costumes ranging from sequined gowns to flapper-style headdresses, and even a tuxedo, all while playing piano and singing famed jazz songs with a voice that could rival several of the originals. If you’re lucky, Tony Bennett may even make an appearance. The show is tempered with Gaga singing some of her own music, including the hit “Born This Way,” in stripped-down versions featuring different melodies
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend both concerts and meet Lady Gaga. I don’t get starstruck, having interviewed dozens of celebs in my career, but I have to say I was honestly surprised and impressed by her depth and dimension. One of the best-selling musicians of all time (with 34 million global album sales), Gaga is clever, eloquent, and funny. She is also a Tudor watch brand ambassador, naturally embodying the brand’s Born to Dare concept both on and off the stage.
“The truth is, I like to be daring,” says Gaga, who often wears multiple Tudor watches on one wrist. “I think my style is ever changing. You know, from day to day, I want to dress totally different. I went through a period in my life where style, for me, was almost like shedding a skin. You know, if I didn’t feel, like, in my power in a certain way, I would dye my hair that day, or wear a wig, or change my clothes completely, and my style would just be completely different because I wanted to feel different, like a different person,” she says, adding later: “I reinvent myself because I like to. It’s interesting to me. It challenges me.”
Strong-willed and entirely comfortable with who she is, Gaga seems to rise to any challenge: “I want to be someone that’s breaking rules for good reasons. So maybe that’s part of being daring—it’s breaking some rules, but breaking rules for the right reasons.”
Gaga readily admits that as a child she struggled with anxiety and depression—she even talks about it in her shows. In fact, that’s what led her to create the Born This Way Foundation, which her mother heads up. The foundation is committed to supporting the well-being of young people.
“You know, we’re bringing teen mental health first aid to the United States for the first time. So we’re in eight schools now. We will expand and add 20 more,” she explains. “It’s like, you get to this point, and then you go, ‘OK, I’ve made it’; I look at my Oscar, and then I go, ‘What am I going to do now to help people?’ Because that’s really what we should be doing. And you also can help people by just doing your art, but I think flaunting your fame or flaunting what you have, I think that’s a very bad message for young people. I think young people need to be inspired to be brave, to have a purpose in the world that goes far beyond on their beauty, that goes far beyond being loved for having lots of followers,” Gaga says. “I’m here to tell you that, you know, when you get to the top, what you really should be thinking about is: Why am I here? What am I doing here? And can I be daring enough to look at what I’ve done already, and now let’s take this to the next level, and let’s change some people’s lives.”
In fact, Gaga works hard to use her artistic voice to do good and to breed compassion. And although, with her many facets, she is certainly one of the most talented female performers on the stage today, that’s not necessarily what she wants to be remembered for.
“What do I hope to leave behind? You know, I actually would just like to be remembered as brave. I know that that might sound strange, but, sure, I’d love people to remember my music, remember my art, that’s wonderful,” she says. “But I think I would prefer to be remembered as brave and unafraid to speak my mind. I don’t think that God gave me this voice to be famous; I think he gave me artistry and my voice and music as a vehicle to change the world, and that’s what I really want to do.”