“What better way than to emerge and say, ‘I’m taking my power back, I’m getting my strength back,’ ” Williams, 40, tells PEOPLE. ” ‘I’m going to be okay and start knocking these obstacles out.’ “
The songstress says she’s relieved to have her identity revealed because she no longer has to “lie.”
“It feels so good because I don’t have to lie,” she says. “I’ve been lying to my friends and family and the world since September!”
We previously reported… Williams sought treatment for depression last year, and she and her fiancé, pastor Chad Johnson, ended their engagement. The former Destiny’s Child singer also took a leave of absence from the Broadway production of “Once On This Island” on doctors’ orders.
She decided to return to the spotlight this year with “Masked Singer,” but admits she was still navigating her fragile mental state when production started.
Below are excerpts from her Q&A with PEOPLE about her #bounceback game.
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— The Masked Singer (@MaskedSingerFOX) December 5, 2019
Why was The Masked Singer the right choice for your return to the spotlight?
In my time away, I didn’t have to be on. I didn’t have to sit in the hair and makeup chair and turn into this entertainer. [With Masked Singer] I just felt like I was literally going onto the set, nobody knows it’s me and having a blast just being me. That’s what I will take into every situation is to be me, and whoever’s for me, you’re going to be there for me. Opportunities will be there for me being me.
How was your mental health going into the show?
I was stable enough, but still a little fragile, but thinking that this is going to give me some strength. Because you can’t stay in your cocoon forever, you’ve got to come out.
You talked on the show about feeling insecure in your voice. What made you feel that way?
It’s been that way for a long time. I remember growing up in church and how there was a lot of use with me there. I was very active in my church, very active with various choirs and groups and leading things and teaching at a very young age and sometimes you come into the entertainment world and they don’t appreciate that about you. Of course, I come into a group that already existed, it’s not like I’m a founding member, so it’s kind of like I’ve already got an “X” on my back. That insecurity started 20 years ago, if I’m being honest. And it just builds and builds because I feel like, I’m never going to be able to please anybody. Until you can get to a place where you’re like, “The people that are for me are for me, they buy my music, they support the shows that I do,” it might take you a while to get to that point.
Did you feel like you weren’t able to fully be yourself when you were sharing the stage with others in Destiny’s Child or Broadway?
No. The good thing about being in a group is that you do have other people to lean on. Being in a group we had fun between the three of us. We had a good time and that translates into the relationship that we have with one another today almost 20 years later.
What did you learn about yourself from doing The Masked Singer?
I learned that sometimes we can let our fears cloud how strong we actually are. The majority of the time the stuff that plays in our head is lies. Lies can rob you of your strength. I also learned to not make permanent decisions out of temporary feelings. I don’t know if I want to perform again. Of course, I’ll do theater and all that stuff but do I really want to be an artist full-time? I want to make sure if the answer is no, that the reasoning behind it is not because of feeling like you’re not wanted in the industry. It has to be because you know you can go on and do something greater.
Does that mean you’re still figuring out your next steps in terms of music?
I’m definitely trying to figure things out musically. I know the way we used to do music years ago, you can’t really do it anymore. It doesn’t have to be: okay, every two years you have to release music. If I want to get up in the middle of the night and write a song to a track and release it the next day or two days later, you can do that. You might be the type of free spirit where you’ll be [on social media] like, “Hey you guys, I’m about to release a song tomorrow.”
Read Michelle’s full interview here.