In her first life as one of the original Supremes, Mary Wilson provided the "ooh, aahs" and "baby, baby" vocals behind pop superstar Diana Ross.
The trio had a string of 12 number one hits, selling 50 million records, more than anyone except The Bea-tles and Elvis Presley.But in recent years, Wilson has been stepping out of the shadows as a background singer, trying to prove to the world that she is a star in her own right.
"I'm not taking anything from my first life, but this is my second life," Wilson told Reuters. "I've come back to do what society said you have to do in order to be a star I have to prove myself."
And Wilson is aiming high.
She hopes to see her book "Dreamgirls, My Life As A Supreme," turned into a movie, has penned a sequel of it, is working to obtain a record contract and ultimately would like to act in her own television series.
Since the group disbanded in 1977, Wilson started her comeback by singing in Europe and has done showcase performances in Los Angeles and New York.
It has proved to be a confidence builder after Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records, told her that she couldn't sing. For many years, many critics have also doubted her ability.
"I don't think he meant that I couldn't sing but that my sound was just not happening at that time," said Wilson. "It showed how vulnerable I was. It destroyed me."
As a solo artist, Wilson has been the opening act for other performers. People often ask her if this is a step down from her once glamorous life as a Supreme. She insists it isn't.
"I am not competing with the Su-premes. I'm coming from that and being myself. In my mind, I'm already a star," said Wilson. "There are just certain steps you have to do to build your career.
"People still don't know what I sound like. Until that is cleared up, I'll be looking for a record deal even if I have to finance it."
Although Wilson is confident of obtaining a record deal, she has already scored the equivalent of a gold record on the printed page. "Dream-girls" has already sold more than 250,000 hardcover copies.
"Dreamgirls" covered the Ross era, the tragic life of Florence Bal-lard, who was railroaded out of the group in 1967 by Gordy and died nine years later in poverty. It ends in 1970 when Ross leaves the group to pursue a solo career.
Wilson is penning a sequel to the book, which she said will come off the press in 1989. It will concentrate on events that occurred after Ross left the group and when the Supremes finally disbanded in 1977.
"It will go up to the 1980s to sort of briefly give some idea of what's been happening with me," Wilson added.
Wilson doesn't know whether she is becoming a writer. But she learned a lot about herself.
"It never dawned on me that I was second banana. I never realized it until I began to write my book," she said. "Thank God, I had my sanity."
Wilson is interested in being part of a motion picture based on her book but said rumors that Motown has already acquired the rights to it are untrue.
"It hasn't been sold yet because I still own it. If I sign a contract, I would hope everything in it will benefit me better than the contracts I had at Motown," Wilson said with a laugh.
Wilson would like to work with Motown in order to set the record straight about the rumors that caused the group to break up and the events that lead to Ballard's death.
"If I ultimately sign the contract and do work with Motown, it would be because I felt that I would want to portray the story the way it should be done with a lot of integrity," said Wilson.
Another goal Wilson has set for her career growth includes mending her strained relationship with Ross that occurred during the trio's popularity. Wilson had described Ross in her book as an arrogant, self-centered manipulator.
"It's very important for me to mend with Diane whatever happened in the past. It is part of my growth and what I see for the future," she said.
"We always want to change people and what them to be the way we want them to be. I certainly love her with all her faults and I hope she loves me with all my faults."
The Supremes were recently honored for their contribution to American pop music by being inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. Wilson had hoped for a reunion with Ross at that ceremony but she did not show up.
Ross, Wilson speculated, may not have attended because she had just had a baby. But, Wilson said receiving the award was an honor and "in my mind it makes me aware of how much the Supremes success has touched the world."
Wilson's memory drifted momentarily back to the Brewster projects in Detroit where she would sit on the steps with her girlfriend Jackie and "act my behind off."
"I started out thinking about wanting to be an actress. I never thought about the singing," said Wilson, who has recently enjoyed visibility on a television game show "Hollywood Squares" and a situation comedy "227."