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Under the Radar DVD of the Week: 'Life Is Not a Fairy Tale: The Fantasia Barrino Story'

Dennis King Published: October 8, 2012

This week, the oddest DVD to appear on release lists is:

“Life Is Not a Fairy Tale: The Fantasia Barrino Story”

In this day of instant celebrity, when reality show “stars” can flash onto the pop culture scene one day and fade into oblivion the next, even the rare, incredibly talented ones can seem to pack a career’s worth of melodrama into a very few years, as demonstrated in “Life Is Not a Fairy Tale: The Fantasia Barrino Story” (due out on DVD Tuesday).

This 2006 biopic, which aired on the Lifetime Channel, charts the rocky life story of the sultry, sassy singer who only two years before became “American Idol’s” third-season winner and quickly went on to release a platinum-selling album, “Truth Is,” that landed three songs on Billboard Magazine’s top five adult R&B chart.

In seemingly short order, Barrino published her autobiography, “Life Is Not a Fairy Tale,” which became a 2005 best seller; auditioned for a role in the 2006 film “Dreamgirls,” but lost out to another “Idol” contestant (Jennifer Hudson, who went on to win an Oscar), and made her Broadway debut in 2007 in a wildly celebrated performance as Celie in “The Color Purple.”

But, as she detailed in her book, Barrino’s life and her road to stardom were anything but fairy tale perfect.

After growing up in poverty, Fantasia dropped out of high school following a sexual assault that left her feeling ashamed and stigmatized. As a young single mother, she struggled through a grueling period of abuse, desperate poverty and crippling illiteracy until her spectacular singing voice landed her a spot on “American Idol” and a golden chance at fame and fortune.

In the Lifetime movie, Barrino plays herself and gets stellar support from a cast that includes Loretta Devine, Kadeem Hardison and Viola Davis.

Even with all her commercial success, Barrino continues to live a tumultuous life, having recently given birth to a son in 2011 by her married lover. Four months later she returned to the studio to begin recording her fourth album.

“Life Is Not a Fairy Tale: The Fantasia Barrino Story” is not rated and runs 105 minutes. It’s being released by A&E Entertainment.

- Dennis King