Ashanti Working On Second Album, Looking Forward To Movie

But first she'll release video for 'Dreams,' from her debut album.

NEW YORK — Maybe she picked up some pointers from all those children of the night while on the set of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," because Ashanti doesn't get any rest until the sun comes up.

"I just got out of the studio about 4 a.m. this morning," she said recently. "We're already back in the lab for the second [LP]. We have five joints done. Just a few songs, but they're hot, so that's what counts. With the first album we basically just went with being real, just being able to relate to everyone universally — black, white, male, female. For the second album, we just kind of want to take it up a notch. We haven't worked with anyone new yet, but you know, everything is open."

Although Ashanti said her new LP is due in the summer, she's still milking her triple-platinum debut. She's putting out a video for "Dreams" in a couple of weeks.

" 'Dreams' is a very inspirational record," she explained. "I had [to go through] three record deals [to get where I am today, and] I just want to inspire people not to give up and to keep the strength going and be persistent."

Undoubtedly, like she does at all her performances, Ashanti will be ending her upcoming Australian tour dates with the tune when she heads Down Under with the rest of Murder Inc.

"We're going to be down there for a month," she said, giggling like a schoolgirl. "It's going to be hot. I'm looking forward to it. It's like a mini-tour with Ja [Rule] and myself. All the shows are sold out. I've been in Japan, we did Paris, a lot of overseas things, but not Australia."

With the heavy demand around the globe to see Ashanti and Ja perform, there aren't too many places they haven't planted the black and red Murder Inc. flag. However, one place where they're still looking to make a significant impact is Hollywood. There are plans for the two to star in an Irv Gotti-directed remake of 1976's "Sparkle," about three Harlem sisters who become singing stars.

"I saw the script yesterday in Irv's office on his desk, so I guess the fire's getting hot now," she said. "That's the classic movie. It was on heavy rotation in my house."

Maybe a tape of the 2003 Grammy Awards will be the new favorite in the Douglas household. The singer just bought a new home for her and her family and said she has plenty of space to put her two new trophies (see "Norah Jones Sweeps Grammys, Boss Wins Three, Avril Shut Out").

"I'm just loving it. I'm just blessed and happy to be here, trying to stay positive and successful," she humbly gushed of her win for Best Contemporary R&B Album.