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Paula Abdul Balancing Marriage, Work, Fame

Jan 22nd, 1993

By Bart Mills, Chicago Tribune

Knock on Paula Abdul's door and you're greeted by Emilio Estevez's dog, Rowdy, followed by Emilio Estevez.

This is an all-smiles family: Rowdy licks your hand, Estevez shakes it. Paula Abdul hangs back a little, crinkling her dimples near the Gauguin-esque nude on the entryway wall.

Abdul, even tinier than she looks in her videos, leads the way into the living room of her 8,000-square-foot palazzo on the top of a hill high above Hollywood. The room is dominated by an immense painting of a Garden of Eden-style view.

Another wall is taken up by the TV viewing environment, on which a cassette of Abdul's concert special, "Paula Abdul: Under My Spell" (Sunday, Disney Channel) will soon be playing.

Cooler than someone who's become so successful so quickly has any right to be, Abdul, 29, describes the tugs and tussles of embarking on marriage while at the peak of what might be fleeting fame. She's in the middle of the first decent vacation of her career while Estevez is making films back to back.

He's here this afternoon only because his current production, "Judgment Night," calls for night shooting this week.

"I'm getting antsy to get back to work," she says, propping her red-booted feet up on the coffee table, which is covered with remote controls. Since her lengthy 1991-92 world tour, the Japanese leg of which is recorded on the TV special, she has been confining herself to dance, singing and acting classes, preparing for her movie debut, which could come as early as April.

"It's nice to take time off and just be a newlywed," she says. "Of course, Emilio picks this time to work his butt off. But I understand, just like he understands that I'm very career-oriented too.

"In my previous relationships, the guys I was with didn't understand that. `Oh, come on, Paula, you don't have to work on the weekend'-but I did have to. This guy respects my drive to succeed. As soon as we got together, I'm off to the Far East. I became totally geographically undesirable."

Abdul's career demands that she grab the moment, because popularity in the dance-pop field can fade quickly. She has had six No. 1 hits, but for her young fans, it's "What are you doing for us right now?"

"Emilio has helped me with my fragile tendencies," she says. "He's been in the business a lot longer than I have, and he helps me put the pressure into perspective. People have always told me to be more positive-he's shown me how."

When Emilio met Paula, it was like when Harry met Sally. They were already friends.

"Phone friends," Abdul says. "He'd gotten my number and called me a lot. We talked every few months, and he was always charming and sweet, but we never met. We were both involved in other relationships.

"It came time for my tour and I was resigned to never meeting anyone because I was going to be so busy traveling. I was in New York performing and he happened to be staying in the same hotel. He left me a message: `We'll never be able to get together in Los Angeles. How about New York?' We went out that night and we started dating right away."

Abdul and Estevez spend their time together at the movies or playing. "We go hiking a lot in the Santa Monica Mountains. We'll walk for five hours, catching up on each other's life and being quiet together, just the three of us-don't forget Rowdy!

"Emilio taught me to rollerblade and ice skate and he's going to teach me to ski. I was the one who turned him on to hiking. He's very competitive, so naturally he's so avid about hiking now that I can't keep up with him."

Curbing her own tendency toward perfectionism is one of Abdul's New Year's resolutions.

"You can push yourself so hard it becomes destructive," she says. "For instance, when I'm doing my own choreography, I very seldom feel comfortable with what I've done. It's great when I choreograph for other people, but when I adjust it for myself I have doubts. I've had to learn to trust others to help me be realistic and relaxed about this part of my work.

"That's one resolution-to be more in the moment, to enjoy my work more. Another is to eventually let go of sugar, which is tough because it's so addictive. I'm also going to make sure I take a class of some sort every day. Classes are like I'm going to college, making sure I continue to grow."

Abdul started out as a cheerleader, first at her Los Angeles high school, then with "the Laker Girls," the Los Angeles Lakers' time-out entertainment. She moved into choreographing shows and videos for the Jacksons and won an Emmy for her work on "The Tracey Ullman Show." When she opened her mouth to sing, her first album, "Forever Your Girl," was a big hit and the 1991 follow-up, "Spellbound," sold 5 million.

Acting is the natural next move for Abdul, who rejoiced at singer Whitney Houston's acting success in "Bodyguard." "Emilio reminds me that acting can be very boring, with all the hurry-up and wait on the set. But I've done videos where we shot for 18 or 24 hours straight, so I know something about it."

She's cagey about just what her film debut will be. She has subjects in development at Disney and Columbia, which she describes as "a romantic comedy-action film" and "a romantic fantasy musical." Eventually she'll act with Estevez, she hopes.

What about a family with Estevez?

"I'd love to have children. I'm a good friend to Emilio's kids (they're 8 and 6, from an earlier relationship). But we're delaying having kids of our own. We want to be selfish with each other and spend time as man and wife. Later on, we'll accept the responsibility of bringing children into the world."

Filed under: Spellbound

 

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