As Kelly Rowland boarded the elevator in the Standard to head up to the top floor for her album release party last night, she was excited—not about the event, but about the elevator. This, she remembered, was the place where the long ride to the top is made more bearable by video art! “That’s so dope, I love it,” Rowland said as we rode with her, trying to place where some of the 400-plus video clips in Marco Brambilla’s Civilization pastiche came from. “That’s from The Wizard of Oz!”
Rowland, of course, had a lot more to be excited about than correctly identifying Glinda the Good Witch—her third album, Here I Am, was released yesterday on the momentum of its excellent first single, “Motivation,” featuring Lil Wayne. (Stay tuned for our interview with Rowland, coming later this afternoon.) The Top of the Standard had been transformed for the occasion into the Moët Rosé Lounge, with pink rose centerpieces and bottles of rosé champagne dotting the room, and it’s never looked prettier. About 200 guests hobnobbed under the soft pink light; later on, Beyoncé joined them. (She had to change a flight out of London, we learned, and wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to make it—but when Beyoncé wants to get to a party, Beyoncé gets to the party.)
When Rowland’s friend, actor-musician Tika Sumpter arrived, Rowland squealed “Tiki!” and jumped up to join her. What followed was perhaps the most genuine step-and-repeat hug we’ve ever seen. “I’m not only a fan of her epic work, but she’s a genuinely beautiful person, inside and out,” Sumpter told Interview later. “You saw the hug, right? I love her.” We saw the hug.
For her own part, Sumpter—probably best known for her turn as Raina on Gossip Girl last season—has kept busy this summer. “I just did a Jason Derulo music video, for his new single coming out, I’m so excited. It’s called ‘It Girl.'”
Is she the girl in question? “I’m the It Girl! And right now I’m working with Angela Hunt—she’s a songwriter, she wrote ‘Empire State of Mind’ for Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, and [has worked with] a ton of other amazing artists. So we’re in the studio and we’re going at it! … In September I start The Game again in Atlanta. And I don’t know about Gossip Girl yet—fingers crossed, but they’ve been so great to me, so I’m like, ‘Whatever!'”
Speaking of Gossip Girl—Sumpter is in the rare, enviable position of having been required for her role to make out with both Ed Westwick and Chace Crawford onscreen. She was frustratingly diplomatic about who’s the better kisser. “Let me tell you something. If I have a choice between Chace and Ed, I’m doing very well. You know what I mean?”
Okay, but if she had to be stranded on a desert island with one of them… “On a desert island… well, I’m a Gemini, so I need two different characters. I’m two different people!” We gave her points for creativity, grabbed a mini-bottle of Moët, and settled in for the evening.
ABOVE: BEYONCE ARRIVING. PHOTO COURTESY OF MOËT ROSÉ LOUNGE/GETTY IMAGES