Baldheaded bombshell V. Bozeman could be a poster child for a #MelaninRich campaign. She’s strikingly beautiful, and quite dismissive of mainstream notions of beauty. No hair, don’t care. But aside from being exquisite, V. Bozeman (the “V” is for Veronika) is an advocate of the Black Lives Matter movement, and has done work with the Justice League. And did we mention that she sings like a lark?

Her season-opening performance of “What Is Love” on the hip-hop drama Empire was fire. To some, this may have been an introduction to the 27-year-old chanteuse, but she’s paid her music industry dues, and is currently making her way as a singer, actor and model. Under the tutelage of mega producer Timbaland, she’s in good hands.

EBONY caught-up with V. Bozeman to discuss her path into the music industry, how she connected with Timbaland and how she lives her truth.

EBONY: You’re fairly new to the scene, but not really. Can you tell me a bit about your foray into the industry?

V. Bozeman: I started out in girl groups a lot, earlier on in my career. Mahogany was the most buzz-worthy girl group I was in. Babyface got wind of us. He loved us, signed us, and I was with him for a good year before I was over the whole girl group era. All of the stereotypical things that you can think of that happened in girl groups, it happened in mine. And I just was over it and ready to move on, do my own thing.

EBONY: You’re a model, singer and actress (we’ve seen you on Empire). What is your preference?

VB: I really love to do it all, but singing has opened so many doors for me. And that’s definitely a true passion of mine. It’s a natural, God-given gift. I always find comfort in singing, so singing is number one. Acting, modeling: those go hand-in-hand and I enjoy those too.

EBONY: Your mentor is the one and only Timbaland. Can you speak to how you made your connection with him?

VB: I’ve known Timbaland for a while. I had a run with an artist by the name of Timothy Bloom. We had a really bubbling single called “Until the End of Time.” And at that time, Timothy was signed to Timbaland, and that’s how I became acquainted with Timbaland. We developed a friendship. He always said he would come back for me when he was ready, and he did. We’ve been rocking and rolling since we got together a couple of years ago. I’m blessed to be under his mentorship, and grateful he’s opened so many doors for me.

EBONY: You mentioned Timothy Bloom. You currently have a Christmas song out with him, “Christmas Without You.” Do you plan on doing any additional Christmas songs?

VB: It was just something special. I’ve always wanted to do a Christmas song, and me and him are great together when it comes to those duets. I had an idea that we do a song together and we came up with “Christmas Without You,” and it felt like home. It felt soulful. It felt right. I always like to serve the people some good soul music, and Christmas was just the cherry on top.

EBONY: Another song that feels right is “Smile.” It’s a super feel-good song.

VB: It brings a healthy balance when it comes to the music thing. There are so many things happening in the world, so I just think that this song is very appropriate for the times and the temperature; what’s happening right now.

EBONY: How did it feel to perform it live at the Soul Train awards?

VB: It was really surprising to me when I performed it, because I didn’t know that so many people really liked the song. It’s my peers in the industry; I can’t easily impress my peers in the industry. When everybody was rocking with me and really just having a good time, it definitely felt good that they connected with the song. That’s what me and Timbo wanted. It brings a good balance to the atmosphere. People received it. It was a great magical moment.

EBONY: You also are collaborating with Timbaland on his next album, Opera Noir. What can we expect from the body of work?

VB: Soul music. But at the same time, you have those Timbaland-isms. He was very crafty and he’s such of an expert on binding and infusing two different sounds together, the young and the old, and that’s what you’ll get with Opera Noir. It’s very rich, it has great content. It’s a project of substance and I’m proud to be a part of it. It’s him and myself on the songs. I was honored for him to want to do a project for me. I can’t wait until people hear it.

EBONY: What did you learn on Opera Noir that you will take with you when working on your forthcoming album, Music Is My Boyfriend?

VB: You don’t always have to take yourself so seriously all of the time. It still should be a joyful experience in making music. You can definitely hear that in my album. And I really learned that you should seize the moment; you should be present in the moment. It was just a great time musically for me. I evolved so much during Opera Noir, during my album, and it’s just so apparent in the music, in the delivery and the execution of it all. So I’m proud of it.

EBONY: In a previous interview you said, “I can’t be a part of anything that’s not authentic. That’s not my brand.” Tell me about your brand and what this quote means. 

VB: You don’t always need all of the bells and the whistles. I learned in my life, throughout my journey, that I’m enough. I don’t need all of the extras. I just live my truth, and as long as I do that, I feel like I’ll be good in whatever circumstance. I apply that to life, to my music, to being a young lady out here. I just have to live my truth and know that it’s okay to rock on my own vibration, because I’m me. I try to stand by that code, especially as a young Black woman in this industry. I try to walk the walk and talk the talk.

Felice León is a New York City-based writer, host, envelope pusher, and a semi-recent graduate of the Columbia Journalism School. When León isn’t hosting or co-producing her web series, Running the Streets with Felice León, she works as a freelance multimedia journalist. Follow her on Twitter @RTSWFL.