Nick Cannon Recalls Wooing Ex Mariah Carey Before They Dated: 'People Don't Tell Mariah "No"'

Cannon says he complimented Carey in interviews in a bid to earn her affection during the early days of their courtship

Nick Cannon had to work hard to get Mariah Carey‘s attention — and when he finally did, he turned the tables by playing hard to get.

In a clip from TV One’s Uncensored, Cannon — who wed Carey in 2008 and filed for divorce in late 2014 — recalled wooing Carey, 48, before the exes started dating.

“At one point, I was like, ‘I’ma get Mariah Carey,'” Cannon, 37, remembered. “It turned from my celebrity crush to like, ‘Nah, she’s about to be my girlfriend.’ People were like, ‘You’re bugging. There’s no way you can get Mariah Carey.’ I was like, ‘Watch, I’m telling you.'”

Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 24 Mar 2018

Cannon caught Carey’s eye by praising her in interviews. “She had heard me speaking all of these positive, secret little nothings about her in interviews, and I remember seeing her backstage at the Teen Choice Awards, and she stops right in front of me. She’s like, ‘I heard all those nice things you been saying about me.’ I was like, ‘They’re true! Just give me an opportunity to make them come true!’ And she smiled, and they floated her off.”

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That conversation with Carey, who welcomed the former couple’s 7-year-old twins Moroccan and Monroe in 2011, gave Cannon newfound hope. “And from that day I knew that she knew,” he said. “So I doubled down … and people would just laugh it off until she wanted to do a video and she wanted me to star in a video [for ‘Touch My Body’].”

20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Arrivals
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

This time, it was Cannon’s turn to float off. “I was like, ‘I ain’t about to be in that video. People already think I’m corny enough!'” Cannon said. “So I told Mariah ‘no.’ And people don’t tell Mariah ‘no.'”

Cannon’s rejection worked to his advantage. “I was like, ‘Yo, you got another one for me or something like that, we can get down. I promise you.’ And she called me and she was like, ‘Not only do I have another video for you to be in and to be my love interest for, but I want you to direct it.'”

He concluded, “Bam, I’m in there!”

In April, Cannon had nothing but kinds words for Carey after she revealed her struggle with bipolar disorder.

“I’m in awe of her strength,” he told PEOPLE Now. “Every family has to deal with something, but through love and understanding is how anyone gets through any adversity. And that’s what we’ve always been about.”

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