How Adrienne Bailon-Houghton Went From Pop Star to Entrepreneur

teen queens

In ELLE’s series Teen Queens, we check in with the iconic stars who ruled the stage, screen, and news cycle during their reign.

If you ask Adrienne Bailon-Houghton to sum up her ascension from pop star to entrepreneur, television host, and mother in one word, she’ll say “authenticity.” Her career, which spans more than two decades, takes us from her iconic girl group origins in 3LW and The Cheetah Girls to winning an NAACP and Emmy award as a host on the daytime talk show The Real (the show ended its eight-season run in 2022, and she’s now hosting E! News).

Now 39, Bailon-Houghton’s professional path shifted when she learned to own her truth rather than try to fit into the boxes the industry wanted to put her in. “It was honestly frustrating until I suddenly just said, ‘Listen, I am going to live and be who I am authentically,’” she says via Zoom. “If there’s one thing I would encourage people to do, it’s to find out who you are, what you love, and really create your own community and your own following. The doors will open for you because you are walking in your purpose.”

naturi naughton, kiely williams and adrienne bailon of 3lw photo by ron galellaron galella collection via getty images

3LW at the Billboard Music Awards in 2000.

Ron Galella

Part of her purpose is entrepreneurship. Bailon-Houghton has launched not one, but two businesses: XIXI, a jewelry collection, and LA VOÛTE, a luxury loungewear and vegan leather handbag line. “It was so important to invest in myself. I used to spend so much money on other brands, and [eventually] I was like, ‘Why don’t we create the things that I’m wanting, especially for young girls that grew up like me?’”

Perhaps it’s that level of relatability that has allowed her to create longevity in Hollywood. Naturally, she launched a YouTube channel to form a deeper connection with her fans. “It’s like my open letter to my fans about things I’m learning and what I’m going through with my family. And so much more tips, tricks, hacks, all the good stuff.”

The latter is part of the reason why Bailon-Houghton, a self-described recovering procrastinator when it comes to cleaning up, partnered with Bounty for its latest launch. “I love the fact that as a new mom, Bounty has created this new paper towel where you can get sheet done with just one sheet.”

Below, Bailon-Houghton speaks to about learning to love her singing voice, documenting her journey to motherhood, and entrepreneurship.

From 3LW to The Cheetah Girls, being part of a girl group was a big part of your career. Was that intentional?

Not at all. I think when Disney Channel decided they were doing The Cheetah Girls, which was based off of the book series by Deborah Gregory, they were like, “Well, this is a movie about girl groups, maybe we should have the current young girl groups come audition.” I went in for an audition and I got the role of Chanel (“Chuchie”). Crazy enough, during that time, we were still putting out music as 3LW, and it almost felt like a conflict, so we ended up taking time off from 3LW and just choosing to completely focus on becoming The Cheetah Girls and touring. One of the most incredible times in my life was touring as The Cheetah Girls and doing arenas. I have the best memories of those performances.

Some fans of The Cheetah Girls are dying for a reboot. What are your thoughts?

I am not against a reboot, but I’m the kind of person that has movies that I grew up with and that I loved and I’m like, “Oh, please don’t ruin it.” So I would hate to do that to this franchise. But me and Raven-Symoné actually talked about the idea of a next generation and being the new moms in the situation, and now their daughters are wanting to start a girl group. I think that would be so much fun.

You’ve been open about learning to love your singing voice after your time in The Cheetah Girls came to an end. What was that experience like?

I think that we were vocally produced to intentionally sound younger, and even getting in the habit of singing at a higher pitch became irritating to me. When I shared that on The Real, so many people were sending me messages, encouraging me and telling me how much they love my voice. One of the greatest things I ever did was join The Masked Singer because it gave me my confidence back; I forgot how much I loved singing. And having a husband [gospel singer Israel Houghton] who’s super musical and who’s an incredible singer encouraged me. He tells me “Adrienne, if you couldn’t sing, I would not tell you to go sing.” There are going to be people that love [my singing voice] and there are going to be people that don’t love it. I’m now okay with that.

What prompted you to share your fertility journey on your YouTube channel?

It was so hard. But I felt like the only reason I could share it was because I was able to give hope to someone. It may not be the way I planned it or the way I imagined it, but it’s just as beautiful. The journey is never going to be the same as someone else’s, and being able to share that was important. I filmed it maybe three weeks before my son was born, and I was in this place of “I’m so excited. I’m looking forward to this so much,” and then I’d have to remember my lowest moments. So it was pretty difficult having to go back to that.

You’ve launched XIXI and LA VOÛTE. Did you always aspire to be an entrepreneur?

I always wanted to be on trend and in fashion, but that sometimes wasn’t affordable or accessible to me. Being able to create those items and provide that high-end experience at an affordable price was everything to me. Almost all the bags are under $100.

Teen Queens Questionnaire

Name a 2000s fashion trend that should never come back.

Glitter. I was not allowed to get my belly button pierced, so I would literally just put glitter lotion all over my stomach. I put the stick-on jewels around my belly button. They even had little jewel tattoos that you could put around your belly. It was a whole circle of diamonds around my belly button!

Who was your first celebrity crush?

Mario Lopez. I was obsessed with his dimples, and it’s kind of crazy because we now work in the same studio and I just co-hosted E! News with his wife. I always said I wanted to marry a man with dimples, and my husband has dimples and my son has dimples.

What is the wildest rumor you’ve ever read about yourself?

That I dated the rapper Fabulous. That one was really intense, and people were so sure about it. But at the time, I was actually dating his manager, which is why I was always around him.

What are some of your fondest memories from childhood?

Being a part of church choirs and rehearsals. Getting prepared for big Easter plays was like our Super Bowl and I absolutely loved it.

Did you keep anything from The Cheetah Girls set?

I have quite a few things because, crazy enough, in the first movie, the posters that they put up in Chuchie’s bedroom were actually my personal posters of Angie Martinez and Jennifer Lopez.

Which episode of That’s So Raven was your personal favorite?

It has to be the gum episode. I wore wigs almost the whole time that I played Alana Rivera because I always had stuff getting caught in them. They had two shots where my hair turns blue. It was so much fun, and I absolutely love working with Raven. Now, being part of Raven’s Home as Principal Alana Rivera has been super fun.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Headshot of Carine Lavache

Senior Social Media Editor

Carine oversees the social media strategy for When she isn’t scrolling through social feeds, you can find her binge-watching a show on Netflix, meditating, or baking something she hopes will turn out amazing. 


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