Why Backstreet Boys' AJ McLean Separates His "Persona" From His Real Self as Alex

Backstreet Boys singer AJ McLean looked back on his wellness journey, exclusively sharing with E! News that the biggest lesson he's learned is "turning off" his onstage alter ego: "I have self-worth."

By Gabrielle Chung Aug 16, 2023 2:48 AMTags
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Sometimes, AJ McLean and the Backstreet Boys are two worlds apart—and that's OK.

As he continues on his wellness journey, the 45-year-old—born Alexander James McLean—has learned the importance of setting boundaries in life. In fact, he now practices what he calls "turning off AJ and letting him live in the world of Backstreet" once he's off the stage. As AJ put it in an exclusive interview with E! News' Francesca Amiker, "I have self-worth."

"The biggest thing for me is knowing that AJ is a persona," he explained. "AJ is my job, but Alex is who I am."

The singer—who shares daughters Elliott, 10, and Lyric, 6, hairstylist Rochelle DeAnna McLean—continued, "When AJ's done doing work, I'm Alex. I'm a husband, I'm a father, I'm a friend."

And since learning to set healthy boundaries between work and his personal life, AJ is "much happier than I'd ever been."

But that doesn't mean AJ isn't proud of all that his onstage persona has accomplished. After all, he thinks it's "really cute" that there's a new generation of Backstreet Boys fans in his kids and their friends.

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"It's a little painful to know that I got a fifth grader and now a first grader, that just means I'm getting old," he joked, quipping that a lot more parents and teachers he meets at their school are fans of the boy band. "A lot of my oldest daughter's friends know who we are and love our music."


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AJ added that he considers fatherhood to be "the best job in the world."

"I love it," he said. "It's so rewarding. My girls love me to death and I love them to the moon and back."

However, they won't be tagging along with AJ to Backstreet's Back to the Beach, a multi-day concert vacation at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun, Mexico. Scheduled for April 18 to 21, 2024, the experience will include two nights of AJ and his bandmates—Nick CarterKevin RichardsonBrian Littrell and Howie Dorough—performing on the beach, as well as appearances by Jason Derulo, Eric Cubeecchee and DJ YO-C.

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"This is definitely not a place for kids," AJ shared, "not because we're doing anything inappropriate or weird, but this is an adult vacation."

Though AJ will not be partaking in any adult beverages during the trip, he assured that he's still "definitely going to let loose."

"Oh, trust me: Even sober, I'm gonna get crazy," he said with a laugh. "I love to have fun. I enjoy being with my boys, being with the fans."

AJ added, "I'm going to be drinking my mocktails and I'm gonna be out there, dancing and singing having a good time."

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