July 12, 2004 12:00 PM

AGE: 22

HOMETOWN: Waldorf, Md.

LATEST CD: It’s About Time

Naughty girl:

Thanks to the dance hit “Dip It Low,” singer-actress Christina Milian is earning buzz for her catchy new album It’s About Time. She’s also garnering notice for the sexy “Low” video, in which a skimpily clad Milian writhes in black paint. What does her mom, Carmen, have to say? “It’s what sells,” says Carmen, who’s also her stylist. “But there is a certain point where I don’t want the crack of her butt sticking out.”

Hard knocks:

At 13, Milian moved with her mom and two sisters to L.A., where they lived in the same apartment complex as Jessica Biel, Green Day and Tupac Shakur. After her parents’ divorce, the family fell on hard times, once having to accept food from a church. “The bread was crawling with ants,” says Milian. “I told my mom, ‘We’re not moving into a homeless shelter. We’re gonna make it happen here. I promise.’ ”

She’s with the band:

Small TV roles (and a Honeycomb cereal spot) led to a hosting job on MTV; after landing a record deal she scored a hit ’00 duet with Ja Rule and a gig opening for ‘N Sync. “She was like the cute spunky kid sister,” says ‘N Sync’s JC Chasez. “Not everyone could take Justin’s practical jokes or my teasing.”

In the driver’s seat:

Having just wrapped Cheer Up with Tommy Lee Jones and Be Cool with John Travolta, the single Milian is focusing on her career—and the occasional splurge. “I bought a silver Cadillac Escalade,” she says. “It was the most cash I’ve ever spent. But I love it!”

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