Carmen Electra is "in shock" following the death of music icon Prince, who served as a friend and mentor in the early days of her career.
The model and actress sat down exclusively with ET's Kevin Frazier on Thursday, hours after the Purple Rain artist's untimely death at 57, where she opened up about his life and the impact he had on the world.
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"Prince, to some people, was this untouchable force," Electra, 44, shared. "For someone who people looked up to like a god, this musical genius, this non-human thing, this entity, to be powerless and to lose his life – it’s shocking. I feel I don't even know what to say… I didn't think this day would come."
Electra, whose real name is Tara Leigh Patrick, met and befriended Prince in 1991 when she was 18 years old. Prince, who convinced the actress to change her name to her current moniker, signed her to his Paisley Park Records, where she began her singing career.
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Electra gushed over Prince's unbridled support of her dreams, recalling how great it was to have "this incredibly generous person believe in me, give me a career, record music for me, write the music [and] give me a name."
"If he believed in you he was rooting for you. He was the biggest cheerleader,” Electra recounted. "He did that for me. He gave me confidence. To go to the school of Prince -- that was college to me."
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Electra, who had been "crying all morning" since hearing the news, also admitted that she and Prince had been romantically involved during "during the recording" of her self-titled 1993 album.
Electra explained that it was a relationship Prince wanted to keep under wraps for the sake of her career.
"I remember he said, 'You know, I believe in you and I want people to take you seriously and people know you're my girlfriend. People will think I'm just doing this because you're my girlfriend. So if anyone asks, tell them 'too many men, not enough time.'" Electra said. "I felt like he was protecting me."
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In the wake of his death, Electra addressed the way their relationship ended, with her exploring other aspects of her career, away from Prince, in Los Angeles. When asked what she would say if she had one last chance to talk with him, Electra said, "I just always wanted to tell him that I love him… And thank you for the inspiration, thank you for making me who I am today."
For her, Prince's legacy is that he will always be "the most powerful, influential, dynamic musical genius to touch the face of the earth. He's special and he'll live on forever."
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Prince was found unresponsive at 9:43 a.m. at his Paisley Park Studios complex in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The investigation involving his death is still ongoing and an autopsy will be conducted on Friday.
No details have been released regarding a service for the iconic musician, but if a funeral is held, Electra said she'd "absolutely" attend if "that’s a possibility," although she added that she's not been in contact with those responsible for any such event.
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"I love him dearly and I think the message here is about love and I think his message was about love," she added.
Tune in on Friday for Electra's full interview with Entertainment Tonight. Check here for local listings.
For more on the life and legacy of Prince, one of music's most influential figures, watch the video below.