Jason Derulo: ‘Lockdown’s been the most fun I’ve ever had in my life’

The singer, 30, on being a cool uncle, speaking Creole at home and having 30m followers on TikTok

I was four when I decided I was going to be an entertainer. I saw Michael Jackson for the first time and said, “Mum, I want to be him.” She was like, “Yeah, OK baby.”

I grew up in Miami, but very Haitian. When I was a kid I didn’t speak English at all; I still speak mostly Creole with my family. We come from one of the poorest countries in the world. I wear that flag proudly.

I watched my parents work so hard. My mother went to law school, had two jobs and still came home to cook us dinner. It was inspiring. It’s where my worth ethic comes from. My family is like-minded. My brother, sister and cousins all work with me. That keeps me grounded.

My biggest fear? Not being able to grow and evolve. I know everything comes to an end, but the thought of things slowing down… You hear horror stories in the entertainment industry – people at the highest level experiencing downwards spirals in their personal life. I’m just riding this incredible wave.

I broke my neck – the C2 vertebra – in 2012. It’s called the hangman’s break. While preparing for a tour I did 50 back tucks as an endurance test and bailed on one and that was it. I wasn’t able to tie my own shoes or take a shower myself. It was a wake-up call. You have to live every day like your last. Now I’m just living it up.

I used to work out twice a day and was looking great before lockdown – man, I miss that body.

I’m afraid to say how much I’ve been enjoying lockdown. It’s been a hard time for a lot of people. But I haven’t been home since I was a kid really, so it’s been the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. I used to do so much travelling – last year I was home for 60 days. There’s no way I would live like that again.

I have over 30m followers on TikTok. I’m getting 2-300,000 new followers a day. It’s crazy! I’ve never taken myself too seriously, and on TikTok you can just do anything – it’s opened up a whole new me. It’s the future, even if it gets banned.

I have three nieces. I try to be a cool uncle, give them experiences I didn’t have. I’d be lying if I said the thought of having kids didn’t cross my mind. As the years go by you’re like, “Damn, what is it all for?”

Tattoos can be beautiful. I’m not sure how many I have, but they all mean something. I like the fact that something can be a blank canvas, and then not. I’m always trying to make my body better – sculpt it, change it, try to make a better version of myself.

I have a painting on my wall of people who have inspired me: Michael Jackson, Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Barack Obama, David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Bob Marley, Beyoncé. I’ve met a lot of them, but Will Smith is still who I’m blown away by meeting. To know him is unbelievable. I feel like he’s taken me under his wing.

I was filming a movie with Samuel L Jackson before lockdown happened. I love acting. My biggest goal is to make a significant impact on the film and television industry.

Jason Derulo’s latest single, Take You Dancing, is out now

Rachel Corcoran

The GuardianTramp

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