In the day since former "American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino was rushed to a North Carolina hospital after an apparent suicide attempt, reaction from her fans has been mixed. Some have expressed their support for the singer, while others have criticized her for being "selfish," given that she is the mother of a 9-year-old girl.
While that criticism might seem harsh, it's certainly par for the course, according to public-relations executive Howard Bragman, who has overseen the career rehabilitations of Isaiah Washington and Naomi Campbell. Barrino can't worry about what some of her fans might think of her right now, he said, because she has to focus on her own health. And no matter how bad things seem right now, the forgiveness will come.
"I think the number-one thing Fantasia has to do is heal. I think she has to get some psychological help, find out what brought her to this moment, and make sure it doesn't happen again ... that is number one," Bragman told MTV News. "And once that's under control, then you start to look at your projects on the horizon. You don't give yourself this timetable. But assuming she's well enough in a matter of weeks or months to promote her album or her projects, well, the reality is, we live in a very forgiving society.
"We like rehab, we like rebirth, we like reconnecting with people," he continued. "We're willing to give people a second chance if they look us in the eye and [tell us] why they're going on with their lives and why they deserve a second chance. I don't think this is a career-breaker."
Speaking of that career, Barrino will eventually have to return her focus to upcoming projects, including a second season of her VH1 reality show "Fantasia for Real" in September and a new album, Back to Me, which is due August 24. When she finally does, she needs to prepare herself for an onslaught of questions about just what happened Monday. So the best possible strategy, according to Bragman, is to be proactive about things.
"I think she's certainly going to get asked the question about what happened. And if she were my client, I would do one or two very well-orchestrated interviews, possibly a print interview, a People magazine, and then a broadcast interview ... and get it out there," he said. "And then if you're asked about it again, you say, 'You know, I've really talked about that a lot, and I feel comfortable with what I said, and I'm here to promote my album' to change the focus a little."
Bragman added that Barrino needs to take time for herself and only come back when she feels strong enough to do so. And when she does, he expects that her fans will welcome her back with open arms.
"I think we go back to talent, and I think she's got great talent, she's got great heart and great spirit, and I think we want her to succeed," he said. "I don't think she's one of those people we don't want to see do well. ... We're on her side, and I think she's going to feel the love when she goes back out there."
Where should Fantasia go from here? Share your thoughts in the comments.