Derrick Barry as Britney Spears
Derrick Barry, the world’s leading Britney Spears impersonator has just completed a South African tour, wowing club-goers at Crew in Cape Town and Babylon in Joburg. Although he’s been performing since the age of 12, he first made an impact on international audiences when he appeared as Britney on the third season of ‘America’s Got Talent’ in 2008.
Since then, this Californian has gotten to travel the world paying homage to his idol; not only getting to personally perform for her but also meeting other stars such as Lady Gaga and working in videos for the likes of Katy Perry and Eminem. Shortly before he left the country, Derrick chatted to Mambaonline.
Are you enjoying South Africa?
Yes – I’ve loved everything about my experience in SA!
How have your shows been received here?
An extremely welcoming response. I am so humbled by the interactions I’ve had with the audience that attended the shows. I’m extremely grateful and appreciative of the opportunities I shared with all of you.
How did you get started in showbiz?
I’ve been a performer all of my life but it wasn’t until I moved to LA that I took it to the next level. My cameo appearance on ‘The Tonight Show’ with Jay Leno started my career impersonating Britney Spears.
Who inspired you when growing up?
Mariah Carey and her song Make it Happen have been my true inspiration throughout my entire career in show business.
What is it about Britney that so fascinates you?
It’s her young ambition and talent and drive. She inspires me because she has the entire package. She sings, she dances and she performs. She’s a true all-rounder!
You also do Lady Gaga…
I am completely in awe of Lady Gaga and her work. In essence she has brought fashion and art to music and dance.
Which of these two is more difficult to perform?
It’s been more difficult to master the performance art of Lady Gaga because her dance style and costumes are more extreme and avant-garde.
Derrick Barry (Pic: Nick San Pedro)
Are there any other divas that you have paid tribute to in your shows?
Amy Winehouse and Katy Perry, but I am more focused on Britney and Lady Gaga.
Why do you think gay men are so intrigued by these divas?
Because they embody “larger than life” characters. In my opinion, most gay men are showgirls at heart…
Did you ever think you could make a living by “impersonating” a star?
I knew I would make a living as a performer but I never thought it would be by impersonating another performer.
How much interaction have you had with Britney?
It was on the Tonight Show where she clapped for me and smiled. She has told NBC that she loved my performance on ‘America’s Got Talent’ and has even been so gracious as to send me a signed photo and Circus CD. And she even signed it to my name!
What do you think of her new album? Why does she never sing live anymore?
I love it! I think it’s one of her best. She’s said that she’s training hard to sing live on the [next] tour so I’m looking forward to her live vocals.
Does it worry you that you might be remembered more as a Britney impersonator than an entertainer under your own name?
I know that I’ll always be remembered as a Britney impersonator but I have so much to still show the world under my own name – music, choreography, comedy and, most of all, acting.
What did doing appearing on ‘America’s Got Talent’ do for your career?
(Laughs) Great question! I’m answering these questions while sitting at lunch in an amazing restaurant on Sandton Square in South Africa after completing my six show tour here – so I think that pretty much answers your question.
Are you a supporter of television reality talent shows?
I’ll always be an avid supporter. It broke me through to a mass market and allowed me and my talent to become a household name.
What do your family make of your career choice?
I have the most supportive family! My parents moved me from Modesto, California to Las Vegas to allow me to pursue my ultimate dream of being on stage. My family, including grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, have all seen me perform.
As Britney in Frank Marino’s Divas Las Vegas.
Are you involved?
Yes, with celebrity artist Nick San Pedro for over four years now. We’ve collaborated on numerous business and personal adventures.
And what do you think of SA’s men?
To be honest, I think that South Africa’s men are the most beautiful I have ever seen.
What’s surprised you about South Africa?
I’ve been impressed by the technical standards and effort that have been put into the staging of my shows. Just the whole way South Africa flows is so magical… I was also very impressed that I saw my first live giraffe up-close-and-personal at Kwa Maritane nature reserve.
After South Africa, where to next?
I’m going back to Las Vegas where I appear in a show called Divas Las Vegas. When I’m not in the show I’ll be following Britney’s Femme Fatale tour around America and performing at clubs for either the pre or post show parties.
And when will we see you again?
I’m looking hugely forward to possibly returning to South Africa – for Pride or maybe MCQP and even New Year’s in Cape Town. Keep your fingers crossed and until we meet again or, as Britney sings, “until the world ends”!