Prince Lets ‘The One’ Mayte Garcia Take the Reins on His Video: 365 Prince Songs in a Year
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
You might say that, for Prince, "The One" was Mayte Garcia, the first wife of the ladies' man who many believed would never settle down. Rarely one to give up control, Prince nonetheless followed her lead when making a video for the song of the same name, which appeared on 1998's Newpower Soul, an album credited to his backing band, the New Power Generation.
In the song, Prince takes a series of tropes about the lousy, selfish, no-good man and breaks them down one by one. "If you're lookin for the man that will walk away, from responsibility / I ain't the one (I ain't the one) / (I ain't the one) / And if you're lookin' for the brotha that'll treat / You like anything, but a Queen / I ain't the one," he sings. "But if you're lookin' for a man that'll / Sweep you off your tired, weary feet / Pay your bills, buy you pretty dresses / And take you anywhere you wanna eat / Make love to you every night of the week / Oh, don't think it over, girl / Look no further / I am the one."
But it's no surprise that the one to whom he made these pledges was involved. She wrote and directed a short silent film that precedes the song. It was a Cinderella story, starring herself as the title character and Prince as, well, the prince. But when it came to casting the evil stepmother, he had his own idea: Rita Moreno, the stage and screen legend who is one of the few people to have won all four major entertainment awards (Oscar, Emmy, Tony, Grammy), including an Academy Award for her portrayal of Anita in 1961's West Side Story.
Moreno was already a fan of his music. "I like all the old people, and Prince, and Steely Dan," she said, explaining her musical taste. "I was in a Prince video. I got a call one day, four or five years ago. My agent, in absolute wonder, said, 'Prince wants you to be in a video.' His wife has written a song, sort of a Cinderella story, and they wanted me to be the wicked stepmother," although Moreno still hadn't seen the video as of 2004.
It wasn't the first or last time he'd show an interest in either the women who played that particular West Side Story role, or a generation of mature divas. In 2009, after seeing Karen Olivo receive a Tony for her own spin as Anita, Prince tracked her down that very night. He made an appearance at the cast's afterparty, introducing himself to the actress, who has since gone on to play a number of stage roles including that of Angelica Schuyler in the Chicago production of the powerhouse hit Hamilton.
Though it wasn't released until 1991 — and then only by by T.C. Ellis, who had starred in Prince's Graffiti Bridge — Prince also toiled over a song called "Girl O' My Dreams" all the way back in 1982. But the woman he describes is, at least outwardly, less like Garcia or Olivo and more like Moreno. He namechecks a series of stars from Hollywood's Golden Age, including Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Lena Horne: "Oh, I need a woman like Lena Horne / Knowed she was funky since the day she was born / Lena's mama say 'Doc, is it a girl?' / Doc say 'And how!' / Lena smiled, slapped the doctor and said / 'Sucker, I'm runnin' things now!'"
Prince and Garcia separated the year that "The One" was released, after the couple suffered two tragic losses: the 1996 death of their son, Amiir, six days after he was born, and a miscarriage two years later. In an interview after his passing, Garcia noted his strong faith and that "I think he thought because we lost our two children, two babies, that I wasn't the one."