Ashanti, 26, is tucked away upstairs with her momager at Planet Hollywood in Times Square. She politely requests “anything fruity” for a beverage, calling out “green tea, jasmine tea, herbal tea.”

It’s a calm respite from the gathering of rabid fans who come out to cheer on the singer-actress, who is donating her outfit from the sci-fi thriller Resident Evil: Extinction (out September 21). This marks her first adult film role in the wake of teen flicks John Tucker Must Die and Coach Carter. She even shoots a gun!

The temperatures were intense on the set of Resident Evil, which was shot in Mexicali. “We stuck a thermometer in the sand and it was 130 degrees,” she tells me. “That was really blazing. We had to drink a bottle of water every hour.”

What’s one thing Ashanti can’t live without? “Music. That’s my passion.” Luckily, her new album, The Declaration, is due in December, and boasts collaborations with Jermaine Dupri, Pharrell, Babyface and more. “I definitely have grown a lot in the three years since my last album.”

One way she’s grown is in her love for longtime boyfriend Nelly, 32. “He’s a funny guy, he’s very talented and he’s passionate about what he does regardless if it’s music or playing poker,” she tells me.

Nelly took home the prize at the Celebrity Poker Tournament at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on September 8. “He won, and I went shopping for shoes!”

Let’s hope Ashanti enjoys my favorite treat – Planet Hollywood’s world famous chicken crunch. Mmm!

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