July 17, 2006 07:45 AM

Fantasia Barrino was not a totally willing participant in the TV movie about her hard-knock life, the third-season American Idol winner told the Television Critics Association’s summer meeting.

“I didn’t think it was going to be tough going back playing myself, but it was because I had to relive those moments,” said Barrino, the Associated Press reports.

“At the end, I began to cry and I said, ‘I went through all those things, but I know why I share my life.’ I’m thankful that I was able to do it,” she said.

Life Is Not a Fairy Tale, set to air Aug. 19 on Lifetime, is inspired by the R&B singer’s autobiography about dropping out of high school and becoming an unwed mother at 17.

A rape scene was particularly unnerving for Barrino, who initially told director Debbie Allen she wouldn’t do it.

“She talked to me, and she helped me out a lot,” Barrino said. “The good part about it is her son played the part. He was so warm and funny. I said, ‘If you touch me, I’m going to punch you.’ He goes, ‘I’m going to punch you back.’ So it made it a whole lot easier for me.”

In her memoir published last year, also titled Life Is Not a Fairy Tale, the singer also admitted to hiding the fact that she can neither read nor write – sometimes having to fake lyrics and not even understanding her record contracts – and that she was raped as a 9th grader in school.

The most difficult aspect of her illiteracy, Barrino told 20/20 in an interview, is that she is prevented from reading a book to her 4-year-old daughter, Zion: “That hurts really bad.”

As for the sexual assault, Barrino said the perpetrator was a popular male student on whom she had a crush, and after the incident (which occurred in the school auditorium), she crawled right into bed at home.

“And my mom comes upstairs and she says, ‘Something is wrong with you.’ I wouldn’t even talk. She says, ‘Have you been touched?’ I still said nothing,” Barrino said. “I laid in that bed for two days. I wouldn’t even go to school.”

Once Barrino finally told her mother, the boy was disciplined. Except, Barrino says, at “one point in time I was saying it was my fault – just because of the way I was dressed, I caused it on myself.”

Later that year, she dropped out of school, and by age 17, Barrino was an unwed mother.

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