R&B star Brandy blames herself for her fall from grace in the early 2000s because faking her marriage after falling pregnant was the "biggest mistake" of her career.
The Boy Is Mine hitmaker's squeaky-clean image lay in tatters in 2002 when she discovered she was pregnant with producer Robert Smith's child - and she and her management team came up with a cunning plan to hide the truth in a bid to protect her career.
Discussing the marriage lie in detail for the first time on a VH1 Behind the Music special, she says, "That (her pregnancy) was something that was not OK with the Brandy brand. That wasn't cool. I was raised with a Christian foundation. It's a sin to get pregnant out of wedlock; that's not allowed. I was scared, I didn't know what to do.
"Everybody around me is trying to force me to get married and so I said, 'Why don't I just say I'm married? 'Cause I don't wanna get married, so why don't I just say it?' It was the biggest mistake I have ever made... The lie about being married was the fall of my career. Everything changed."
The romance didn't last and she and Smith split in 2003 - a year after their daughter Sy'rai's birth, and Brandy began to tell fans that she had divorced her 'husband'.
But Smith refused to continue lying and went public with the truth about their sham marriage in the summer of 2004.
She explained, "When that hit the fan, it was like, 'Oh, my God, what am I gonna do? How am I gonna recover from this?'"
Brandy, now 33, accepts that she should have told the truth about her love and baby drama from the start - but she was so "lost", she just agreed to follow the advice of her manager mum Sonja Norwood and her advisors.
She said, "If I was woman enough to lay down and get pregnant by someone, then I should have been woman enough to admit that that's what took place. And I'm telling my team and everyone around me, I have to say sorry. (They said), 'No, no, no... We have to twist this, we have to turn it.'"
But she doesn't regret going through with the pregnancy because now she has "a beautiful daughter at my hip".