Beyoncé Knowles Curated
Grammy Award-winning Singer
CURATED BY : +44 others
Was there any exploitation of personal life when you had started your career
What do you think about today's artists in the music industry?
How do you work now?
How did your first single"crazy in love" happen?
When did you decide to do something solo?
How did the first single of Charlies Angles soundtrack come up?
What did you feel when you lost two members of the group?
Do you remember the first time the song played on the radio?
Tell us about your first single?
What did you feel when you first got a record deal?
Were you fortunate as a kid?
Did your father and mother help you with your career at the beginning?
How was your relationship like with others in the group Destiny's Child?
How did you become part of the group Destiny's Child?
Can you tell us about your very early performances?
Could you discuss about your first child with Jay-Z?
The quest for my purpose became so much deeper, I died and was reborn in my relationship, and the quest for self became even stronger. It's difficult for me to go backwards. Being 'number one' was no longer my priority. My true win is creating art and a legacy that will live far beyond me. That's fulfilling.
Could you disclose about your miscarriage?
I began to search for deeper meaning when life began to teach me lessons I didn't know I needed. Success looks different to me now. I learned that all pain and loss is in fact a gift. Having miscarriages taught me that I had to mother myself before I could be a mother to someone else.
Was she disappointed that Lemonade didn't win any of the Grammys' most prestigious categories (it was nominated for Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Rock Performance, Best Rap/Sung Performance, and Best Music Film). Lemonade only won Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Music Video (for "Formation") at the 2017 ceremony?
"I began to search for deeper meaning when life began to teach me lessons I didn’t know I needed. Success looks different to me now. I learned that all pain and loss is in fact a gift. Having miscarriages taught me that I had to mother myself before I could be a mother to someone else. Then I had Blue, and the quest for my purpose became so much deeper. I died and was reborn in my relationship, and the quest for self became even stronger. It’s difficult for me to go backwards. Being 'number one' was no longer my priority. My true win is creating art and a legacy that will live far beyond me. That’s fulfilling."
Blue Vanda orchids.
What’s your Snapchat name? We know you’re on there.
I hate to say it, I hope I don’t sound ridiculous, but I don’t know what my Snapchat is. Sorry to that Snapchat.
Go-to makeup look?
Moisturizer, a little concealer, and a bright lip.
Blue Vanda orchids.
Granola with pecans.
You’re at karaoke. What does Beyoncé sing?
“Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” and “Hotel California” (the guitar solo is my jam)!!
What’s your favorite word? Least favorite?
Least Favorite: No. Favorite: Why????
What question do you hate to answer?
Are you pregnant? Get off my ovaries!
What’s something you could eat for a week straight?
How long does it take you to get ready?
As long as I take, I better look like Halle Berry.
What’s your least favorite song to perform?
I like to cycle through my songs when I need a break from performing them. Then I miss them, bring them back, and fall in love all over again.
Talking or texting?
Talking, but trust me, you’ve never seen a longer text than one from me. Ask Parkwood!
It’s Corny Joke Time. What’s your joke?
What do you call a deer with no eyes? No idea. Get it? NO-EYED-DEER.I’m so sorry. Blue is absolutely going to kill me for telling that terrible joke.
If you could be an animal for a day, would you still be a whale?
I still love whales. And I love being in the ocean. And that video was after a 16-hour press day. Not marijuana!!
What grosses you out?
People smacking when they eat.
With all the hats you wear (chairwoman, global entertainer) and all the titles we give you (Queen, Yoncé), which brings you the greatest joy?
Being Blue, Rumi, and Sir’s mom.
I’ve been to every one of your solo tours and the ones with JAY-Z. The Formation World Tour was my favorite. Where is the video?
Years ago, I asked Prince to record my rehearsal with him for our Grammy performance. He said, “You don’t need to record that. You own that in your mind.” Haaaaaaa! Prince always knew best! So, you can always watch the Formation World Tour in your mind; you own that!
Which singer, living or dead, would you want to invite to your house and what would you cook?
Hmmm. I’d have Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Sade, and so many more. We’d shoot oysters and have pizza.
Everybody’s weight fluctuates. How does it make you feel when people are constantly commenting on your appearance?
If someone told me 15 years ago that my body would go through so many changes and fluctuations, and that I would feel more womanly and secure with my curves, I would not have believed them. But children and maturity have taught me to value myself beyond my physical appearance and really understand that I am more than enough no matter what stage I’m at in life. Giving zero 🤬s is the most liberating place to be. Also knowing true beauty is something you cannot see. I wish more people focused on discovering the beauty within themselves rather than critiquing other folks’ grills.
In your productions, you show many shades of black and brown skin tones, various sizes, and representation of members of the LGBTQIA community. Why is inclusion and representation important to you?
For me, it is about amplifying the beauty in all of us. I rarely felt represented in film, fashion, and other media. After having a child, I made it my mission to use my art to show the style, elegance, and attraction in men and women of color. We are living in a beautiful time of real progression towards acceptance. I’m so proud of the progress being made in and around the LGBTQIA community. Masculinity is being redefined. Women are not competing with women. They no longer strive to be the best female anything. They strive to be the best. Diversity and inclusion go beyond race.
As the chairwoman and CEO of your company, Parkwood Entertainment, what are some of the measures you have put in place to assure women executives have an equal say?
It’s always been important to me to hire women. I believe in giving a voice to people who are not always heard. One of the first presidents of my company was a woman. My current GM, head of production, head of PR, and other leaders are women. I hire women not to be token voices in the company but to lead. I believe women are more balanced and think with compassion in deciding what’s best for the business. They see the big picture absent of personal agendas. Most women are loyal and commit with 100 percent follow-through.
After 25 years in the game, how do you not lose yourself?
The predictable rock star DNA is a myth. I believe you don’t have to accept dysfunction to be successful. This is not to say that I have not struggled. I have the same pain that life brings to everyone else. I try to shift the stigma that says with fame there has to be drama. It is how you relate to your hardships and use that to evolve. And I try to keep real ones around me.
What do you do with your clothes after you wear them? I am certain you won’t wear them again. May I have them?
I think it’s important to have great basics that you can wear again and again. Versatility is a big part of the IVY PARK line and what inspires me. You can create your own style by experimenting and taking chances and continually reinventing your look with all of these pieces. I also donate my personal clothes to great charities that support women getting back on their feet. And I save my special pieces for my daughters! “I give my daughter my custom dresses, so she gon’ be litty. Vintage pieces by the time she hit the city, yeah-ah!!”
Is there ever a morning you want to just put on sweats and go for a walk without security?
Would we see you at the supermarket or Target? What do you buy?
The last time I went to a supermarket, it was more like a bodega before a Madonna concert. Jay and I snuck into one in Crenshaw and bought some Cuervo and Funyuns chips. And…y’all know you see me at Target and I see y’all trying to sneak pics.
Do you ever react to negative comments about yourself?
Yes, I’m human. In moments of vulnerability, I try to remind myself I’m strong and I’m built for this. Thank God most of the noise bounces off of me after all of these years.
How do you take care of yourself ? Do you believe in self-care?
The name of the brand comes from where I built my strength and endurance as a young woman. I ran and trained in the park, and that state of mind has stayed with me all these years later. It’s the first place where I learned to listen to my body. Many of us grew up seeing our parents act as if they were superheroes. Most women have been conditioned to ignore symptoms and just “tough it out” and focus on taking care of everyone else before themselves. I am no longer one of those people. After having a difficult pregnancy, I took a year to focus on my health. I have researched information on homeopathic medicines. I don’t just put any prescription in my body. My diet is important, and I use tools like acupuncture, meditation, visualization, and breathing exercises.
What stresses you out? You always look like you are in control
I think the most stressful thing for me is balancing work and life. Making sure I am present for my kids—dropping Blue off at school, taking Rumi and Sir to their activities, making time for date nights with my husband, and being home in time to have dinner with my family—all while running a company can be challenging. Juggling all of those roles can be stressful, but I think that’s life for any working mom.
You have worked with several female directors. Why is that important to you?
Melina Matsoukas has inspired me to own and redefine what it means to be a director. As a woman, if you are too opinionated, too strong-willed, too anything, you are disregarded. I’ve seen this happen to Melina, but she handles it with respect and grace. Melina is a rarity; she has the sensibility to understand fashion, photography, storytelling, history, and culture and is able to seamlessly incorporate those components into her work. I have trusted Melina for over a decade and created some of my best work with her—from visuals for my music to tour content and now a fashion shoot. I was so excited to work with her on this shoot for ELLE, because working with Melina is effortless. We have a natural way of collaborating because of our friendship and mutual respect for each other. There’s no politics, no ego; it’s just about being in the moment and creating dope art. Pioneers like Kasi Lemmons, Julie Dash, and Euzhan Palcy have amazing catalogs, and women like Lena Waithe, dream hampton, Adria Petty, Diane Martel, Darnell Martin, and Ava DuVernay have added to the dialogue. And I am lucky to have worked with most of these talented women.
What is your work process like? Where do you start? Where do you get your ideas?
With new projects, I get my team together for a prayer. I make sure we are all clear on the intention and what the deeper meaning is. I do my best, and I try to push everyone around me to do the same. I eventually give everything I have. When it’s released to the world, I let it go because it is no longer mine.
Why did you start directing? Is it not hard enough being the queen that constantly slays us?
Thank you.Directing has, in a way, always been a part of my creative process. I’ve always had a passion for writing treatments for videos since Destiny’s Child. In 2008, I started a production company and sat in a room full of editors who taught me how to use Final Cut Pro. I spent a year editing and creating Life Is But a Dream. I went through hundreds of shows’ worth of footage, and that experience taught me to love the filmmaking process. I love how mixing media can take you on a journey, which inspired projects like Lemonade and Homecoming. I love combining doc-style footage with live performances and incorporating all aspects of my life in film.
I connected with Lemonade and I almost passed out when I saw Homecoming. You brought it and made me want to stand up and scream your name!! What’s up with the people who give out awards? Were you disappointed not winning? Because you know, you already won with me.
I began to search for deeper meaning when life began to teach me lessons I didn’t know I needed. Success looks different to me now. I learned that all pain and loss is in fact a gift. Having miscarriages taught me that I had to mother myself before I could be a mother to someone else. Then I had Blue, and the quest for my purpose became so much deeper. I died and was reborn in my relationship, and the quest for self became even stronger. It’s difficult for me to go backwards. Being “number one” was no longer my priority. My true win is creating art and a legacy that will live far beyond me. That’s fulfilling.
When did you feel confident enough that you could own your narrative as an artist and creator?
The more I mature, the more I understand my value. I realized I had to take control of my work and my legacy because I wanted to be able to speak directly to my fans in an honest way. I wanted my words and my art to come directly from me. There were things in my career that I did because I didn’t understand that I could say no. We all have more power than we realize.
I have been waiting for more IVY PARK. What are you giving us with your partnership with adidas?
My mother instilled in me the idea that creativity starts with taking a leap of faith—telling your fears they are not allowed where you are headed. And I’m proud to do that with adidas. I am excited for you to see the campaign for the first collection of this new partnership. It incorporates my personal style and expands that to include something for everyone. I love experimenting with fashion, mixing high and low, sportswear with couture, even masculine and feminine. This new line is fun and lends itself to creativity, the ultimate power. I focused on designing a unisex collection of footwear and apparel because I saw so many men in IVY PARK. The way they have embraced the brand is an unexpected gift. I appreciate the beauty of gender-neutral clothing and breaking the so-called fashion rules. I took a chance on myself when I bought my company back. We all have the confidence in us to take chances and bet on ourselves.
What is winning to you?
My true win is creating art and a legacy that will live far beyond me,That’s fulfilling.Being 'number one' was no longer my priority
why awards no longer mean that much to you?
I began to search for deeper meaning when life began to teach me lessons I didn’t know I needed," she said. "Success looks different to me now. I learned that all pain and loss is in fact a gift.
Were you traumatized after your miscarriages ?
Miscarriages or "spontaneous abortions" are painful and dreaded all along. However, it is more than just about losing the baby in your belly. It is often traumatic and experiencing a pregnancy loss can make you vulnerable to more sadness than you could have thought of. More than the physical stress, it is the emotional and traumatic stress that takes a longer time to settle. Women who are grieving from a miscarriage can experience a host of symptoms, apart from the physical ones such as self-harm, loss of appetite, fatigue, sleep disturbances and even become susceptible to symptoms of natal depression and anxiety. However, what hurts more is that unlike a lot of disorders, miscarriages and the associated symptoms are not openly discussed. "I heard the heartbeat, which was the most beautiful music I ever heard in my life. But later, I flew back to New York to get my checkup — and no heartbeat. The experience was "the saddest thing I've ever been through."
Whats your take on Self-Care, Weight, and Negative Social Media Comments ?
"Yes, I’m human," "In moments of vulnerability, I try to remind myself I’m strong and I’m built for this. Thank God most of the noise bounces off of me after all of these years." "The name of the brand comes from where I built my strength and endurance as a young woman. I ran and trained in the park, and that state of mind has stayed with me all these years later. It’s the first place where I learned to listen to my body," she said. "Many of us grew up seeing our parents act as if they were superheroes. Most women have been conditioned to ignore symptoms and just 'tough it out' and focus on taking care of everyone else before themselves. I am no longer one of those people. After having a difficult pregnancy, I took a year to focus on my health. I have researched information on homeopathic medicines. I don’t just put any prescription in my body. My diet is important, and I use tools like acupuncture, meditation, visualization, and breathing exercises." Part of self-care is learning to be at peace with yourself, including your body. Over time, Beyoncé said she's learned to look beyond her physical appearance and value her other attributes more. "If someone told me 15 years ago that my body would go through so many changes and fluctuations, and that I would feel more womanly and secure with my curves, I would not have believed them," she said. "But children and maturity have taught me to value myself beyond my physical appearance and really understand that I am more than enough no matter what stage I’m at in life. Giving zero ****s is the most liberating place to be. Also knowing true beauty is something you cannot see. I wish more people focused on discovering the beauty within themselves rather than critiquing other folks’ grills."
You talk openly about letting your father go as your manager. How hard was it to come to that decision?
Tell us about your clothing line.
When you are in down time, and you are hanging with hope, what do you do?
Tell us how is Sasha, your alter ego, different from you?
When you get ready to stage and perform, when does your other face, Sasha Fierce show up?
Its been said that you are the woman who has everything. Do you think the same about yourself?
Can you talk about the challenges you faced managing your career and academics.
Tell us about the biggest opportunity of your life?
What is the most unfit rumour you have heard about yourself and how would you like to counter it?
Tell us about your thoughts on your body type.
Tell us about your love for acting.
You were a school girl when you became a pop star. How did you manage both school and singing?
What is that something special that makes someone a star?
Tell us, are you conscious of being a role model?
Do you have some sort of alter ego when you go up on stage?
Life is all about connecting the dots through the threads and your purpose of life. Are you in the process of connecting the dot?
Did you ever think that life is but a dream a way of saying ‘all right here I am’ ?
As a girl, did you ever had a disease to please?
How do you figure out who you are when you are in the prison of fame?
What is the craziest thing you have read about yourself?
Which of your songs are you the most proud of?
Tell us the song you would like to be remembered for.
Tell us about your worst habit.
What’s the most important lesson you have learned being a mother?
I have learned patience, to see the things that are invisible, and the value of time. We are born with only a certain amount of heartbeats. Be wise with what or whom you choose to spend your energy on.
What does fear taste like?
Success. I have accomplished nothing without a little taste of fear in my mouth.
When was the last time you laughed until you cried?
When I was playing the Ellen DeGeneres game “heads up” with tequila shots on my birthday.
What book did you last read?
To be honest, I just read ‘The THANKFUL Book’ to Blue an hour ago before I dropped her off at school. For myself, I’m reading ‘The Untethered Soul’ by Michael A. Singer.
What’s your favourite thing to do on a Sunday?
Pray and meditate. Cuddle in bed with my man and my baby. Eat brunch with my family. Swim. Paint and listen to great music. Have a beer. Nap. Eat pizza. Make love. Sweet dreams…
Where is your favourite holiday spot?
The Maldives, Phuket, Croatia; anywhere I can see the ocean
Who is the one who plays an important role in your life?
My mother is my biggest hero. “She has taught me about caring for others, working hard and working smart”. “Everything I know about being a mother comes from examples she has shown. My mother has instilled confidence in my sister and me and taught us to always be grateful.”My proudest moment was when I gave birth to my daughter, Blue Ivy.
Tell us how you are no longer defined by outside influences when it comes to your artistry.
“Over time, I have learned to focus on the things I want to focus on in the time frame that I set,” she said. “I no longer have to work based on someone else’s expectations or pressure. I put enough pressure on myself! I love being 100-percent involved with all my projects and now I’m fortunate enough to do that.”
How would your friends describe you?
They'd say I'm laid-back and calm—and kind of motherly. I can be goofy and silly, but I don't really laugh at myself.
What’s your average day like?
If I have a day off, sometimes I'll stay in bed all day and watch TV and eat whatever I want. I'll eat cereal and Oreos and change channels every three minutes. I watch everything from National Geographic to the History Channel to The Tyra Banks Show to MTV. And I really like Fear Factor.
What’s your diet and exercise regimen like now?
I go through sports. I love food. I grew up in Texas with these big portions of good food. For the last month, I've just been decorating my house and enjoying life and eating anything. But next week, I start rehearsing, so I'll start running again and eating healthy four times a day, cutting back on carbs, anything white, and anything that tastes too good.
Has your body image changed since “Bootylicious”?
It gets easier to be confident about my body as I get older. I realize who I am, and I deal with it. I'm still kind of embarrassed that I wrote that song—I had gained a little weight, and I was making fun of it. It's a silly song, but it's nice because it's made curvy women feel sexy.
Any wardrobe malfunctions while filming a video?
In my Crazy in Love video, I was dancing so hard that my whole dress completely fell off in front of all these men.
You call your onstage persona Sasha. Why?
My cousin Angie named her because I've kind of created a different person. If something's hard for me to do [in real life], when I get on stage, I do it without thinking. I don't remember some of the things I do onstage. Once at the MTV Awards, I had [a really expensive] bracelet on and chucked it into the audience. Angie had to go and retrieve it.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken recently?
I took a risk with acting. It was scary because it was different for me. You just always have to take risks. I always go with my gut, and it's always right. People are scared to do that.
You went from writing songs like “Independent Women” to writing “Cater 2 U” for your last album. Does this reflect a change in your own life?
I thought [the members of Destiny's Child] felt like characters… like we were so strong that we couldn't have our hearts broken or we wouldn't do things for a man. But we're human, and I wanted to show that on our last album. [I wrote songs] when I was hurt and vulnerable.
Do you think it’s possible to have it all…the marriage, the kids, the career? Or will you have to slow down?
I'm sure my priorities will change. My mother was such a great mother and is still such a big part of my life. I want my kids to feel that way about me. I want to be in their lives. I don't want to be away a lot, so I'm sure I'll slow down. But there are so many amazing people who do both.
You’ve said that to be a strong woman, you need a strong man. What did you mean by that?
You definitely feed off the people around you, and your man is one of the people you talk to the most. So you kind of help each other and keep each other strong. It's important.
What defines a perfect evening for you?
Light some candles, have a good meal, and watch an old movie. I don't cook much, but I'm good at spaghetti and sandwiches. I know they're easy, but they're my specialty.
Do you think the fact that you and Jay-Z have tried to hide your relationship has helped it?
I don't try to hide it. There's nothing to hide. People see us, but we just don't talk about it, and I think that's absolutely helped us. People give us space and respect us. The minute you start talking about it, that's all people want to talk about. And then the really big rumors start happening.
A lot has happened to you in the year 2005-2006. How has it all changed you?
I've grown so much. I'm more picky about what I'll do, and I'm more of a businesswoman. But at the same time, I take care of myself. All I used to do was work. Now I'm comfortable in my own skin and have a good balance.
What’s been your most fearless move?
Doing my solo album. People don't realize that Destiny's Child started when we were 9. We shared everything, like sisters. It takes courage to step out on your own when there's no conflict. It was always comforting knowing the other girls were there to share the nervousness, the pressures, and the rumors. Dealing with that alone and making all the decisions myself was hard.
After all the achievements, what was it like going solo for Run the World?
Scary and empowering! Everyone in the group was very nervous, and terrified to do things on our own. We missed each other; it was hard having to make your own decisions and not have someone there to say, "I agree" or "I don't agree." But going through that is a part of life; it was a big first step for me, but one of many first steps I'm sure I'll have. I kind of feel like that now again. I'm approaching 30, and finally took a break in my life, which I've never had. I took more than a year off: I traveled around, spent time with my husband, woke up in my own bed, ate whatever I wanted, went to museums and Broadway plays, watched documentaries, and just had life experiences. I never get to go to concerts because I'm usually performing, so I saw so many shows - great bands, like Muse and Rage Against the Machine, that also inspired the album. There were a lot of artists I'd never been exposed to: I'm like a sponge and soak everything up, and I learned so much from watching these great performers. Having time to grow as a human being was really inspiring, and gave me a lot to pull from. I'm excited about growing: I can just have fun, and the artistic freedom to do whatever I want. At this point, I really know who I am, and don't feel like I have to put myself in a box. I'm not afraid of taking risks - no one can define me.
“A Star is Born” is an appropriate choice, as it follows the rise of a female singer to stardom. What have been your milestones on the way up?
I would say when Destiny's Child worked with Wyclef Jean on "No, No, No Part 2" - we were so young and green and in awe of everything, and couldn't wait to sing for him. And winning our Grammy for "Say My Name" was incredible. I remember hearing the song on the radio for the first time: I felt like "Wow, this sounds like a classic - something that will be around forever." Those melodies and that fast, staccato way of singing created a new style; it inspired a whole movement in R&B. Being part of that was amazing.
Your film career recently took an interesting turn. You’ve gone from “Dreamgirls” to “Cadillac Records” to “Obsessed,” and now you’re working with Clint Eastwood on the latest remake of “A Star is Born.” Tell us more.
It's a dream come true; I'm still in shock that it's really going to happen. Clint Eastwood is clearly the absolute best, and I'm so honored and humbled. I was in no rush to do another movie unless it was the right film, and I didn't even want to touch "A Star is Born" unless it was with him. I actually learned that this project was in existence, and kind of claimed it. I want to get to work right now!
Run the world is your first record that you’ve made without your father managing you. What sort of options opened up that may be different than before?
It's not that anything bad happened between us. My family has my support always, and they support me, but when you've been working with the same people for 15 years, it's natural to eventually have your own ideas. I believe that parents prepare their kids for the moment that they're on their own: at this point, I'm taking everything my dad and my mother have taught me, and I'm able to do things my way. We were at a point where we'd learned so much from each other, and now it's exciting for me to do this on my own and hire my own team. I've started managing myself.
You’re always on the go. Do you ever get downtime?
I got a day off to take my nephew to Disneyland, which was so much fun. I haven't done anything like that in probably 10 years - the last time I was at a theme park was with Destiny's Child! We rode all the rides, some of them twice, and it was my nephew's first time on a roller coaster. There were thousands of people there because it was Easter, but everyone was really polite and respectful, and let us walk around and have a great time. I had on the biggest Goofy hat! [laughs] It was supposed to be a disguise, with this big brim that covered my face, and floppy ears on the sides, but by the end of the trip I realized that people knew I was making a fool of myself in this hat. [laughs] It was a really nice memory for me.
You’re an icon of female empowerment. What does power mean to you?
Power means happiness, power means hard work and sacrifice. To me, it's about setting a good example, and not abusing your power! You still have to have humility: I've seen how you can lead by example, and not by fear. My visit to Egypt was a really big inspiration for me. Once the sun went down, I saw not one woman; it was shocking and fascinating to me, because it was so extreme. I saw thousands of men walking down the street, socializing in bars, praying in mosques - and no women. I felt really proud when I performed and saw the strength that the women were getting through the music. I remember being in Japan when Destiny's Childput out "Independent Women," and women there were saying how proud they were to have their own jobs, their own independent thinking, their own goals. It made me feel so good, and I realized that one of my responsibilities was to inspire women in a deeper way.
How did the creative process begin with the new body of work?
I recorded more than 60 songs: everything I ever wanted to try, I just did it. I started off being inspired by [Afrobeat music pioneer] Fela Kuti. I actually worked with the band from "Fela!" [the hit Broadway musical based on his life] for a couple of days, just to get the feel for the soul and heart of his music; it's so sexy, and has a great groove you get lost in. I loved his drums, all the horns, how everything was on the one. What I learned most from Fela was artistic freedom: he just felt the spirit. I also found a lot of inspiration in '90s R&B, Earth, Wind & Fire, DeBarge, Lionel Richie, Teena Marie... I listened to a lot of Jackson 5 and New Edition, but also Adele, Florence + the Machine, and Prince. Add in my hip-hop influences, and you can hear how broad it is. I also gave myself more freedom to really belt out some songs, and bring soul singing back: I used a lot of the brassiness and grittiness in my voice that people hear in my live performances, but not necessarily on my records.
The new album is called “4.” Aside from this being your fourth solo album, what significance does that number hold?
We all have special numbers in our lives, and 4 is that for me. It's the day I was born. My mother's birthday, and a lot of my friends' birthdays, are on the fourth; April 4 is my wedding date.
The new single, “Run the World (Girls),” is a very bold statement for you. Tell us about this.
It's definitely riskier than something a bit more...simple. I just heard the track and loved that it was so different: it felt a bit African, a bit electronic and futuristic. It reminded me of what I love, which is mixing different cultures and eras -- things that typically don't go together -- to create a new sound. I can never be safe; I always try and go against the grain. As soon as I accomplish one thing, I just set a higher goal. That's how I've gotten to where I am.
Whenever you put out a new song, it seems to generate a catchphrase. Is that something you think about?
That's what I always want to do - I'm attracted to songs that will become a dinner conversation! [laughs] With "Single Ladies," clearly I'd just gotten married, and people want to get married every day - then there was the whole Justin Timberlake thing [recreating the video] on "Saturday Night Live," and it was also the year YouTube blew up. With "Irreplaceable," the aggressive lyrics, the acoustic guitar, and the 808 [drum machine] - those things don't typically go together, and it sounded fresh. "Crazy in Love" was another one of those classic moments in pop culture that none of us expected. I asked Jay to get on the song the night before I had to turn my album in - thank God he did. It still never gets old, no matter how many times I sing it.
Tell us about your legacy which you would like to continue to inhibit in you future generation.
My mother taught me the importance not just of being seen but of seeing myself. As the mother of two girls, it’s important to me that they see themselves too—in books, films, and on runways. It’s important to me that they see themselves as CEOs, as bosses, and that they know they can write the script for their own lives—that they can speak their minds and they have no ceiling. They don’t have to be a certain type or fit into a specific category. They don’t have to be politically correct, as long as they’re authentic, respectful, compassionate, and empathetic. They can explore any religion, fall in love with any race, and love who they want to love. I want the same things for my son. I want him to know that he can be strong and brave but that he can also be sensitive and kind. I want my son to have a high emotional IQ where he is free to be caring, truthful, and honest. It’s everything a woman wants in a man, and yet we don’t teach it to our boys. I hope to teach my son not to fall victim to what the internet says he should be or how he should love. I want to create better representations for him so he is allowed to reach his full potential as a man, and to teach him that the real magic he possesses in the world is the power to affirm his own existence.
Tell us about your memorable moments of OTR II tour.
One of the most memorable moments for me on the On the Run II tour was the Berlin show at Olympiastadion, the site of the 1936 Olympics. This is a site that was used to promote the rhetoric of hate, racism, and divisiveness, and it is the place where Jesse Owens won four gold medals, destroying the myth of white supremacy. Less than 90 years later, two black people performed there to a packed, sold-out stadium. When Jay and I sang our final song, we saw everyone smiling, holding hands, kissing, and full of love. To see such human growth and connection—I live for those moments.
What do you have to say about your coachella performance?
I had a clear vision for Coachella. I was so specific because I’d seen it, I’d heard it, and it was already written inside of me. One day I was randomly singing the black national anthem to Rumi while putting her to sleep. I started humming it to her every day. In the show at the time I was working on a version of the anthem with these dark minor chords and stomps and belts and screams. After a few days of humming the anthem, I realized I had the melody wrong. I was singing the wrong anthem. One of the most rewarding parts of the show was making that change. I swear I felt pure joy shining down on us. I know that most of the young people on the stage and in the audience did not know the history of the black national anthem before Coachella. But they understood the feeling it gave them. It was a celebration of all the people who sacrificed more than we could ever imagine, who moved the world forward so that it could welcome a woman of color to headline such a festival.
What is freedom according to you?
I don’t like too much structure. I like to be free. I’m not alive unless I am creating something. I’m not happy if I’m not creating, if I’m not dreaming, if I’m not creating a dream and making it into something real. I’m not happy if I’m not improving, evolving, moving forward, inspiring, teaching, and learning.
Tell us about your journey so far.
There are many shades on every journey. Nothing is black or white. I’ve been through hell and back, and I’m grateful for every scar. I have experienced betrayals and heartbreaks in many forms. I have had disappointments in business partnerships as well as personal ones, and they all left me feeling neglected, lost, and vulnerable. Through it all I have learned to laugh and cry and grow. I look at the woman I was in my 20s and I see a young lady growing into confidence but intent on pleasing everyone around her. I now feel so much more beautiful, so much sexier, so much more interesting. And so much more powerful.
Tell us about your ancestry and your early life.
I come from a lineage of broken male-female relationships, abuse of power, and mistrust. Only when I saw that clearly was I able to resolve those conflicts in my own relationship. Connecting to the past and knowing our history makes us both bruised and beautiful. I researched my ancestry recently and learned that I come from a slave owner who fell in love with and married a slave. I had to process that revelation over time. I questioned what it meant and tried to put it into perspective. I now believe it’s why God blessed me with my twins. Male and female energy was able to coexist and grow in my blood for the first time. I pray that I am able to break the generational curses in my family and that my children will have less complicated lives.
Tell us about your journey coming from social and cultural barriers.
Until there is a mosaic of perspectives coming from different ethnicities behind the lens, we will continue to have a narrow approach and view of what the world actually looks like. That is why I wanted to work with this brilliant 23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell. When I first started, 21 years ago, I was told that it was hard for me to get onto covers of magazines because black people did not sell. Clearly that has been proven a myth. Not only is an African American on the cover of the most important month for Vogue, this is the first ever Vogue cover shot by an African American photographer. It’s important to me that I help open doors for younger artists. There are so many cultural and societal barriers to entry that I like to do what I can to level the playing field, to present a different point of view for people who may feel like their voices don’t matter. If people in powerful positions continue to hire and cast only people who look like them, sound like them, come from the same neighborhoods they grew up in, they will never have a greater understanding of experiences different from their own. They will hire the same models, curate the same art, cast the same actors over and over again, and we will all lose. The beauty of social media is it’s completely democratic. Everyone has a say. Everyone’s voice counts, and everyone has a chance to paint the world from their own perspective.
Being a mother, what is your say on pregnancy and post-pregnancy body acceptance?
After the birth of my first child, I believed in the things society said about how my body should look. I put pressure on myself to lose all the baby weight in three months, and scheduled a small tour to assure I would do it. Looking back, that was crazy. I was still breastfeeding when I performed the Revel shows in Atlantic City in 2012. After the twins, I approached things very differently. I was 218 pounds the day I gave birth to Rumi and Sir. I was swollen from toxemia and had been on bed rest for over a month. My health and my babies’ health were in danger, so I had an emergency C-section. We spent many weeks in the NICU. My husband was a soldier and such a strong support system for me. I am proud to have been a witness to his strength and evolution as a man, a best friend, and a father. I was in survival mode and did not grasp it all until months later. Today I have a connection to any parent who has been through such an experience. After the C-section, my core felt different. It had been major surgery. Some of your organs are shifted temporarily, and in rare cases, removed temporarily during delivery. I am not sure everyone understands that. I needed time to heal, to recover. During my recovery, I gave myself self-love and self-care, and I embraced being curvier. I accepted what my body wanted to be. After six months, I started preparing for Coachella. I became vegan temporarily, gave up coffee, alcohol, and all fruit drinks. But I was patient with myself and enjoyed my fuller curves. My kids and husband did, too. I think it’s important for women and men to see and appreciate the beauty in their natural bodies. That’s why I stripped away the wigs and hair extensions and used little makeup for the shoot. To this day my arms, shoulders, breasts, and thighs are fuller. I have a little mommy pouch, and I’m in no rush to get rid of it. I think it’s real. Whenever I’m ready to get a six-pack, I will go into beast zone and work my ass off until I have it. But right now, my little FUPA and I feel like we are meant to be.
Tell us about the concept of feminism that you would like to spread among your fans.
“I’m not really sure people know or understand what a feminist it, but it’s very simple. It’s someone who believes in equal rights for men and women about which I also featured the word and definition in my album “Flawless", not for propaganda but to give clarity to the true meaning. I don’t understand the negative connotation of the word, or why it should exclude the opposite sex. If you are a man who believes your daughter should have the same opportunities and rights as your son, then you’re a feminist.”
Tell us about your relationship with your mother.
“One of the best things about my mother is her ability to sense when I am going through a tough time”. “She texts me the most powerful prayers, and they always come right when I need them. I know I’m tapped into her emotional Wi-Fi.”
What is your say on the combination of success and pain?
Everyone experiences pain, but sometimes you need to be uncomfortable to transform”. “Pain is not pretty, but I wasn’t able to hold my daughter in my arms until I experiences the pain of childbirth!
What do you have to say about your controversial anti-police message?
I’m an artist and I think the most powerful art is usually misunderstood”. “But anyone who perceives my message as anti-police is completely mistaken. I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of officers who sacrifice themselves to keep us safe. “But let’s be clear: I am against police brutality and injustice. Those are two separate things. If celebrating my roots and culture during Black History Month made anyone uncomfortable, those feelings were there long before a video and long before me.
What does fear taste like?
Success. I have accomplished nothing without a little taste of fear in my mouth
What do you want to accomplish with the next phase of your career?
I hope I can create art that helps people heal. Art that makes people feel proud of their struggle. Everyone experiences pain, but sometimes you need to be uncomfortable to transform. Pain is not pretty, but I wasn't able to hold my daughter in my arms until I experienced the pain of childbirth!
What do you feel people don’t understand about who you really are, and in particular about the message you’ve put forward with “Formation”?
I mean, I'm an artist and I think the most powerful art is usually misunderstood. But anyone who perceives my message as anti-police is completely mistaken. I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of officers who sacrifice themselves to keep us safe. But let's be clear: I am against police brutality and injustice. Those are two separate things. If celebrating my roots and culture during Black History Month made anyone uncomfortable, those feelings were there long before a video and long before me. I'm proud of what we created and I'm proud to be a part of a conversation that is pushing things forward in a positive way.
Do you recall a point in your life when you realized you had real power?
I'd say I discovered my power after the first Destiny's Child album. The label didn't really believe we were pop stars. They underestimated us, and because of that, they allowed us to write our own songs and write our own video treatments. It ended up being the best thing, because that's when I became an artist and took control. It wasn't a conscious thing. It was because we had a vision for ourselves and nobody really cared to ask us what our vision was. So we created it on our own, and once it was successful, I realized that we had the power to create whatever vision we wanted for ourselves. We didn't have to go through other writers or have the label create our launch plans—we had the power to create those things ourselves.
What do you have to say to those who feel you can’t be a feminist and also embrace your femininity?
We all know that's not true. Choosing to be a feminist has nothing to do with your femininity—or, for that matter, your masculinity. We're not all just one thing. Everyone who believes in equal rights for men and women doesn't speak the same, or dress the same, or think the same. If a man can do it, a woman should be able to. It's that simple. If your son can do it, your daughter should be able to. Some of the things that we teach our daughters—allowing them to express their emotions, their pain and vulnerability—we need to allow and support our men and boys to do as well.
During the Mrs. Carter Show tour, you seemed to embrace your power in a new way—blazing the word ‘feminist’ in bold pink letters across stadium screens. What made you decide to embrace the term?
I put the definition of feminist in my song ["Flawless"] and on my tour, not for propaganda or to proclaim to the world that I'm a feminist, but to give clarity to the true meaning. I'm not really sure people know or understand what a feminist is, but it's very simple. It's someone who believes in equal rights for men and women. I don't understand the negative connotation of the word, or why it should exclude the opposite sex. If you are a man who believes your daughter should have the same opportunities and rights as your son, then you're a feminist. We need men and women to understand the double standards that still exist in this world, and we need to have a real conversation so we can begin to make changes. Ask anyone, man or woman, "Do you want your daughter to have 75 cents when she deserves $1?" What do you think the answer would be? When we talk about equal rights, there are issues that face women disproportionately. That is why I wanted to work with [the philanthropic organizations] Chime for Change and Global Citizen. They understand how issues related to education, health, and sanitation around the world affect a woman's entire existence and that of her children. They're putting programs in place to help those young girls who literally face death because they want to learn, and to prevent women from dying during childbirth because there's no access to health care. Working to make those inequalities go away is being a feminist, but more importantly, it makes me a humanist. I don't like or embrace any label. I don't want calling myself a feminist to make it feel like that's my one priority, over racism or sexism or anything else. I'm just exhausted by labels and tired of being boxed in. If you believe in equal rights, the same way society allows a man to express his darkness, to express his pain, to express his sexuality, to express his opinion—I feel that women have the same rights.
What lessons did your parents teach you?
So many...the gift of being generous and taking care of others. It has never left me. I've also learned that your time is the most valuable asset you own, and you have to use it wisely. My parents taught me how to work hard and smart. Both were entrepreneurs; I watched them struggle working 18-hour days. They taught me that nothing worth having comes easily. My father stressed discipline and was tough with me. He pushed me to be a leader and an independent thinker. My mother loved me unconditionally, so I felt safe enough to dream. I learned the importance of honoring my word and commitments from her. One of the best things about my mother is her ability to sense when I am going through a tough time. She texts me the most powerful prayers, and they always come right when I need them. I know I'm tapped into her emotional Wi-Fi.
Did becoming a mother intensify your desire to somehow make the world a better place?
Of course. I think just like any mother, I just want my child to be happy and healthy and have the opportunity to realize her dreams.
How do you feel about the role of business-woman, running your own company?
It's exciting, but having the power to make every final decision and being accountable for them is definitely a burden and a blessing. To me, power is making things happen without asking for permission. It's affecting the way people perceive themselves and the world around them. It's making people stand up with pride.
You’ve talked in the past about the pressure of perfectionism. Tell us more.
It's really about changing the conversation. It's not about perfection. It's about purpose. We have to care about our bodies and what we put in them. Women have to take the time to focus on our mental health—take time for self, for the spiritual, without feeling guilty or selfish. The world will see you the way you see you, and treat you the way you treat yourself.
How important was the ethos of the brand—the idea of self-love, of girls and women coming together?
It's really the essence: to celebrate every woman and the body she's in while always striving to be better. I called it Ivy Park because a park is our commonality. We can all go there; we're all welcomed. It's anywhere we create for ourselves. For me, it's the place that my drive comes from. I think we all have that place we go to when we need to fight through something, set our goals and accomplish them.
Which details are you most excited about in the collection of your merger brand?
There's an invisible underlining in our garments that sucks you in and lifts your bottom so that when you're on a bike, or when you're running or jumping, you don't feel that extra reverb. And there are little things, like where a top hits under your arms, and all of the areas on a woman's body we're constantly working on. I was so specific about the things I feel I need in a garment as a curvy woman, and just as a woman in general, so you feel safe and covered but also sexy. Everything lifts and sucks in your waist and enhances the female form. We mixed in some features found in men's sportswear that I wished were interpreted into girls' clothes. We worked on the straps, making them more durable for maximum support. But the foundation for me is the fit and the engineering of technically advanced, breathable fabrics.
You’ve done fashion lines before. What have you learned from the partnership of Ivy Park and Topshop?
I've learned that you have to be prepared. And when you visualize something, you have to commit and put in the work. We had countless meetings; we searched for and auditioned designers for months. I knew the engineering of the fabric and the fit had to be the first priority. We really took our time, developed custom technical fabrics, and tried to focus on pushing athletic wear further. And because I've spent my life training and rehearsing, I was very particular about what I wanted. I'm sweating, I'm doing flips—so we designed a high-waist legging that's flattering when you're really moving around and pushing yourself.
Tell us about the journey of including Ivy Park in your work.
I've been shopping at Topshop for probably 10 years now. It's one of the only places where I can actually shop by myself. It makes me feel like a teenager. Whenever I was in London, it was like a ritual for me—I'd put my hat down low and have a good time getting lost in clothes. I think having a child and growing older made me get more into health and fitness. I realized that there wasn't really an athletic brand for women like myself or my dancers or friends. Nothing aspirational for girls like my daughter. I thought of Ivy Park as an idyllic place for women like us. I reached out to Topshop and met with Sir Philip Green [chief executive of its parent company, Arcadia]. I think he was originally thinking I wanted to do an endorsement deal like they'd done with other celebrities, but I wanted a joint venture. I presented him with the idea, the mission statement, the purpose, the marketing strategy—all in the first meeting. I think he was pretty blown away, and he agreed to the 50-50 partnership.