Destiny´s Child


Launch Interview

May 2002

Within the confines of a two-hour interview, even the most temperamental movie stars can usually manage to behave like nice, normal people. Macho action heroes will invariably come across as pussycats, and icy A-list actresses will seem adorably down-to-earth. But music divas, thankfully, are different: They just can't help living up to their legends. Whenever Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey or Courtney Love agrees to meet a reporter for lunch, she's all but guaranteed to show up late, to scream at (or flirt with) the waiter, maybe even to break something. So it's not surprising to arrive at a Beverly Hills restaurant for an audience with Beyonce Knowles—glamorous front woman of Destiny's Child and star of this summer's Austin Powers 3—and to discover that the reservation isn't for two people, but for three: Beyonce will not be arriving alone. And when she does finally make her entrance, trailed by her assistant and wearing a low-cut vintage T-shirt and a Boston Red Sox cap, it's no great shock to learn that she didn't choose the hat because of the baseball team.

"All I know is that it has a 'B' on it," she says. "For Beyonce!" But as she smiles sweetly and settles in for lunch, it becomes clear that Beyonce won't be doing the diva routine today. Within minutes, she's sipping a virgin strawberry daiquiri, confessing that she really wants a boyfriend and reminiscing about a recent trip to the mall. By the time her popcorn shrimp and pizza arrive, it's easy to believe co-star Mike Myers and all the other people who say that Beyonce is really a humble, good-natured 20-year-old, one with an uncanny talent for morphing into a superstar the second she hits the stage. And although pop-music history is littered with sordid tales of innocence gone bad, Beyonce believes she has weathered so much controversy lately that she might already be out of the danger zone.

"Life tests you sometimes," she says. "You have to go through the drama to get the blessing. I've been through the drama, and I've learned that. Now I'm getting the blessing."

The drama, as many people know, began in Houston 13 years ago, when shy little Beyonce, age 7, stepped onto the stage at a local talent show. "I got up and sang this song, and I became a whole different person," she recalls. "It shocked the crap out of my mom and dad." So much so that her father, Mathew, formed a singing group around Beyonce and began overseeing practice sessions in the backyard. In 1992 the group (then a sextet called Girl's Tyme) made it onto "Star Search" but didn't win; Mathew decided to give up his lucrative sales job to manage the girls full time, while Beyonce's mother, Tina, designed their stage clothes and styled their hair at her beauty salon. A few years later, the group—now a foursome featuring Beyonce, Kelly Rowland, LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson—got signed by Elektra, then dumped, then re-signed by Columbia. Their first single, "No, No, No," came out a few months after Beyonce's 16th birthday and made it to number one.

Beyonce still remembers the first time they heard that song on the car radio, while picking up her little sister, Solange, from school. "She and all her friends were walking out, and the song started playing," Beyonce says. "It was unbelievable—we jumped out and started running around the car. We screamed and laughed and cried and danced and sang and all of that. My sister was so embarrassed-—he was like, 'What's wrong with you?' And then she heard the song, and she's like, 'Aaaahhhh!' And she dropped her bag and started running around the car too." A few months later, Whitney Houston invited the girls to her birthday party in New York. "We got some money and put our happy butts on that plane and went straight to that party," says Beyonce. "We even dressed alike, like we were going to perform. And Whitney came and hugged us, and she said that she loved us. We were just in awe."

After another hit record, Destiny's Child was on the verge of bona fide girl-group glory. All they needed was some high-profile strife—and in late 1999 they got plenty. Roberson and Luckett split from the group, eventually suing Mathew Knowles for financial mismanagement and familial bias toward Beyonce (and toward Kelly, who'd long ago moved in with the family). Beyonce went into a deep depression, hiding in her bedroom for a month. Mathew instantly hired two new girls, Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin, whose first task was lip-synching to Roberson and Luckett's voices on the group's next hit video, "Say My Name." But within a few months Franklin, too, was gone, supposedly because she couldn't handle Mathew's notoriously grueling work schedule.

Last year, Destiny's Child's three remaining members released a third CD, aptly titled Survivor, which went multi-platinum and boasted three smash singles, including the Charlie's Angels theme song, "Independent Women Part 1." Inevitably, some critics began to chafe at the group's girl-power message, which seemed cynically manufactured for the masses (the Hasbro dolls introduced last year didn't help). And the whispers of an impending breakup grew louder: Wasn't Destiny's Child just a souped-up star vehicle for Beyonce? Through it all, however, the trio has maintained a defiantly upbeat, we-are-family solidarity. In interviews and even in their song lyrics, they insist that they're equals and best friends, together forever.

"Ain't no one come between us three," they sing on Survivor, in perfect harmony. But as Diana Ross will tell you, some girls were just born to stand out in a group. And Beyonce happens to be the blondest, the curviest and the most honey-voiced of the trio-the one who wrote last year's hit song "Bootylicious" and is herself the ultimate embodiment of the term. Her star power got an additional jolt last October, when she beat out virtually every young African-American actress in Hollywood to win the role of Austin Powers' next sidekick, Foxxy Cleopatra. The character, a sexy detective with a gravity-defying afro, is an ex-lover of Austin's who's still mad at him for standing her up in 1975. In the film, Austin time-travels back to the Seventies to meet Foxxy, then teams up with her to fight Dr. Evil (Myers) and his new partner in crime, Goldmember (Michael Caine).

"I never thought I'd get the part, not in a million years," says Beyonce, who likens her first meeting with the filmmakers to a visit to the principal's office. "I was so nervous. They asked me if I wanted to go into comedy, and I was like, 'Well, I don't know if I'd be good.' Afterward I'm like, 'You dummy, what did you just say? Oh, God!' But I was just being honest, because I didn't know." She made up for it when she returned a few weeks later—copping some major attitude and wearing a Seventies catsuit worthy of Pam Grier—to read a few scenes with Myers. "She just came in and she nailed it," producer John Lyons recalls. "It really was one of those things where she left the room and everyone went, 'That's it.' "

The hardest part of the shoot for Beyonce? "Trying to not laugh," she says. "Literally. That's what I have to concentrate on, because Mike is just so funny. And he does different things in every scene." Acting coach Martha Gehman, hired to work with Beyonce on the film, wasn't too concerned that the actress had only one major credit to her name (a starring role in MTV's hip-hop remake of Carmen). "I don't think she has one bad instinct in her body," says Gehman, who was also floored by Beyonce's capacity for self-transformation. "When you look at her on the set, sometimes you'll see this young girl, just sitting there quietly. A crew person will ask her what she wants to eat, and she'll request some pork rinds. Then she gets onstage, and it's just—she just lights up the whole room, and you're like, 'Oh, my God.' " Wisely, the filmmakers have given Foxxy a few songs to sing in the movie, including the opening musical extravaganza, "Hey, Goldmember."

In the middle of the shoot, however, Beyonce managed to get drawn into a couple of more legal scuffles that threatened to ruin all the fun. Roberson and Luckett sued Destiny's Child again, claiming that a lyric in the song "Survivor" violates their previous out-of-court settlement, which prohibits all parties from making disparaging public comments about one another. (The line in question: "You thought I wouldn't sell without you/ [But I] sold nine million.")

When she's asked about the claim, Beyonce stops eating and looks up from her plate. Her huge brown eyes say a lot of things—some of them nicer than others—but she chooses her words carefully: "I can't say anything because I'm scared I'm going to get sued [again]. All I can say is, it's really unfortunate that when you get successful, people try to steal your happiness. But they can't. Sometimes I still get mad about it, and sometimes it hurts, but it's now to the point where it's ridiculous. It's like, come on!" Roberson and Luckett have attempted to get a restraining order that prevents Destiny's Child from performing the song, but so far they've been unsuccessful. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for this month.

"It's just sad," says Beyonce. "I don't want no drama, I don't want no enemies. All I want to do is go into the studio, write my music, do my movies and perform. I'm not trying to hurt nobody, offend nobody. I'm just happy to be here, and it's just sad that all this other stuff comes along with it." Right now, each of the three Destiny's Child members is working on solo projects—Rowland has appeared on UPN's "The Hughleys," and Williams is releasing a gospel album—but they're touring in Europe together this summer, and Beyonce insists the group is tighter than it's ever been. Not that she expects anyone to believe her. "I can sit here all day and say I am not a diva, but it won't matter, because people just have to be around us and see how we support each other," she says. "Kelly has been on the Austin Powers set I can't tell you how many times. Michelle has been on the set. I've been on the set of Kelly's show, and I've been in Michelle's studio sessions. That's how a group is supposed to be."

Beyonce's parents have taught her that it's bad form to complain, and even her mildest gripes are qualified with multiple declarations about how blessed she is. (The Knowleses are a church-going clan.) But when she's asked what she has had to sacrifice for her career, her answer is unnervingly complete: friends, family, romance, even food.

"The more successful I get, the more I want a boyfriend," she says. "But it's hard. Where am I going to meet somebody? Maybe at an awards show? Or on tour? But we don't see anybody consistently. We are all over the world, so if we do meet somebody, we can't see him again until six months later. So unless you have a serious connection with somebody the first time you meet them, it doesn't happen." On the Austin Powers set, Beyonce's single status has become a running joke: Pity the gorgeous, lonely superstar. "Mike Myers' wife is trying to hook me up," Beyonce says, laughing. "She's like, 'We're going to find you a boyfriend by the end of the movie!' Everybody is trying to hook me up-it makes you feel real desperate. It's like, 'No, it's okay, it's okay!' "

Occasionally, the three Destiny's Child bandmates will muster the courage to go to a club or a party where they might actually meet a man. "And what do we do but sit there and look depressed the whole time," Beyonce says. "We look so unhappy and bored, no one is ever going to come up to us. And because of security, nobody can get to us anyway." So why doesn't Beyonce let a few people through? "Well, I could say to the security guard, 'Okay, he can come over,' but I don't want to have to tell somebody he can come talk to me. It just feels forced, like I'm out there looking and I picked the one I want. That's just whacked."

Another thing that's whacked, in Beyonce's opinion, is dieting. Since being cast as Foxxy, she has been on a strict low-carb regimen, trying to get her stomach board-flat for all the skimpy halter tops. "I hate it," she says, as if the egg rolls and pizza and popcorn shrimp and strawberry cheesecake on the table hadn't already made that clear. "I love eating, and I have a problem with being skinny. But I think when you are 20 you should not have to think about what you eat. Like, you are 20 years old! But I realize that's a sacrifice I have to make for movies."

And while Beyonce says she's happy to be so close to her parents and sister, she seems to be discovering the joys of being apart from them, too: Currently she's scouting for her own place in Miami. "When I go home," she says, "I can't get away from Destiny's Child—my father's the manager, my mother's the stylist, my sister's the dancer, my cousin's the assistant."

She gestures across the table to young Angie, who's been reading quietly through lunch but who looks up with a shy smile, confirming that she is indeed Beyonce's cousin. "There are times when you don't want to talk about work or look at anything that has to do with it, but you can't help it because work is your life, and your family. When the group is not doing well, or if there is a rumor or some deal that is not going through, it affects the whole household, and it's sad. We can't get away from that, even on a Sunday after church." Beyonce has recently realized that everyone in show business needs "some kind of escape," and she is eagerly searching for her own. (Drinking and smoking won't do, she says, at least not for now.) Shortly after arriving in Los Angeles for the Austin Powers shoot, she bought some oil paints, set up an easel in her apartment and began experimenting with everything from colorful abstracts to painting-by-numbers. "It's very relaxing, just my time with myself," she says. She's taking tentative steps toward self-expression in other areas, too—even in her wardrobe, which was long overseen by her mother. The Destiny's Child girls now favor Versace and Gucci in addition to Tina Knowles' designs; offstage, Beyonce says, "I change my style every week." Lately that style has been veering further and further from her teenage Houston looks: No more cluster rings and high-volume hair. "I used to think everything had to match," she says, laughing. "I would look in a magazine and say, 'Why are her shoes and her dress a different color?' That's kind of a Texas thing—everything has to be coordinated, and everything has to be big. Right now I like things that are simple and plain."

But Beyonce's ultimate statement of independence, the one that she'll probably craft with the surest hand, is her first solo record, due out later this year. The album won't have all the Top 40 gloss of a typical Destiny's Child effort: Beyonce describes it as "personal" and "strange" and "soulful" and heavily influenced by Seventies icons like Donny Hathaway, Shuggy Otis and Aretha Franklin. "I still want my songs to be commercial," she says, "but I want to do things that are in my head—the crazy stuff that I really like." Today, in fact, she had hoped to spend some time in the recording studio, but as lunch is winding down, Angie's cell phone rings. It's a call from the set: Beyonce is needed in makeup right away. Myers, who'd been ill over the weekend, is feeling better, so they'll be shooting scene number 43, a crucial reunion between Foxxy and Austin. Beyonce hasn't rehearsed her lines.

Her reaction to the news is unrehearsed, unstaged, unplugged. "Oh, man," she blurts out, "that sucks!" Then, looking at the tape recorder, she smiles and says, "I mean, that's good!" Then she laughs out loud.


Worldpop Interview

July 2001

They may be the biggest girl group in the world but Destiny's Child insist they're just normal girls and that they still get starstruck! In worldpop's video exclusive, they fill us in on their new single, their Christmas album and solo projects.

worldpop: Where did the song Bootylicious come from?
Beyonce: It was inspired by a plane ride to London.
Michelle: The captain was Bootylicious!
Beyonce: It was a long flight, I was bored and had nothing to do. I was listening to a CD and it had this Stevie Nicks sample. It was so funky the word 'bootylicious' just popped into my head. The song is basically about feeling good about yourself and having confidence. It's just celebration of self.

worldpop: Is it a getting ready record?
Kelly: Yes definitely. If you look at the video you can totally see why people are feeling bootylicious. They're all seeing how they look in their dresses and it's like, 'OK, I'm feeling bootylicious today, I'm gonna go shake my thang on the dancefloor!''

worldpop: How did you persuade Stevie Nicks to appear in the video?
Michelle: We met her when we were taping Saturday Night Live and she was doing Rosie O'Donnell. It was so odd because we'd just been talking about her that day. She had things to do but she was willing to cancel them to come to our video shoot. The video turned out hot.

worldpop: Beyonce, after the Carmen movie, have you got any more acting plans?
Beyonce: Yeah, all of us get a lot of scripts. I know Michelle's gotten scripts for a gospel movie. It's something I want to do more of but Destiny's Child is my heart.

worldpop: Have you thought about writing and producing for other artists as well as Destiny's Child?
Beyonce: Yes, but other artists make me scared and if I'm not comfortable, the stuff I write is terrible. Whenever I get my confidence up and feel more secure with my writing then I will do that. I will be writing for my younger sister who has an album coming out. Also, Michelle and Kelly's solo projects whenever they do them, if they want me, I'm here to write for them.

worldpop: What can we expect from your Christmas album?
Kelly: Traditional songs, four original songs and also Solange is going to be on the Christmas album.
Beyonce: We're trying to get either Bono or maybe the Dixie Chicks because we're doing a Christmas special with them so for us to do a duet with them is cool. And we're each going to have a solo song on the album.

worldpop: Michelle, is it true you're going out with Richard Blackwood?
Michelle: No, me and Richard are not dating. I haven't seen him since we were here I believe in April, May for our album release party so sorry guys, I didn't give you what you wanted to hear!

worldpop: Is there much pressure on you to go out with other famous people?
Beyonce: Not really. When you're dating a normal person they want to know about that normal person. People are more fascinated when it's another celebrity but regardless people are just all in your business.

worldpop: Despite being the biggest girl group in the world, you're quite unstarry.
Beyonce: We're people. We come in, 'Hey girl, what's up? Ooh, your shoes are cute. Where you going? Let's go to shopping, alright.' You know what I mean, we're normal people.
Michelle: I'm sure there are some really Hollywood males that probably would be turned off by us.
Beyonce: Yeah, a lot of people would not like us because we're too real for them.
Michelle: We don't care what you do, it does not mean anything, as long as you're a genuine, real person.
Beyonce: That's what impresses us.

worldpop: How does it feel when people like Janet Jackson say they admire you?
Kelly: You see that big grin on all of our faces! We love Janet, she is truly an incredible artist. That's a compliment.
Beyonce: It's very strange. It makes you feel weird. You do get starstruck when you see people like Janet. Sometimes you meet people you like and it's disappointing but you meet people like Janet and they make you feel really excited. Actually we met Michael Jackson doing a show. I looked to my right, he was standing right there on the side of the stage. I had to put the mic down and start screaming and the audience was totally confused! We got so starstruck, we hugged him on stage.
Kelly: And we didn't want to let go!

Destiny's Child: Reunited, and It Feels So Good

The only three people who weren't surprised when Destiny's Child announced their reformation last year were the three singers themselves. Turns out Beyonce and Kelly's solo careers and Michelle's Broadway bow in Aida were all just part of the game plan. Now they're comfortably back where they used to be, with the chart-topping Destiny Fulfilled delivering on its promise of stuttering floor-fillers and backseat ballads. So what's next? As DC explained to VH1 during a whirlwind visit, sharing the ups and downs of fame, packing up the stools for a world tour, and telling a secret or two.

VH1: Did you ever think that maybe Destiny's Child wouldn't get back together?

Michelle Williams: There was never a doubt. When we decided to do solo projects in 2001, this is what we said we would be doing - coming back in about three years. So we are very much on schedule.

VH1: Now that you've done the solo thing, what do you think are the pluses of being together?

Beyonce Knowles: The best thing about being in a group is the friendship. When you're out on the road, you're doing all these interviews, you're touring, you're far away. [But] you have your friends with you to share those hard times and the best times. I know I really missed the ladies and they really missed me. Without the time apart, we didn't know how lucky we are and were to have each other. It's so wonderful to collaborate with other talented people that you respect. [Watch Clip]

VH1: They're really the only people who knew you before you were a star.

Beyonce: We've grown up in a group since we were nine years old. We've shared a lot of things. Y'know, it's hard sometimes having all the responsibilities and having to make every decision, even though that's something you have to do. It was necessary for all of us to get into the studio [alone] and write about ourselves, and decide what we were going to do or not going to do. That's why we've grown so much.

VH1: Where did the concept of the "Lose My Breath" video come from?

Kelly Rowland: The director Marc Klasfeld, who we've actually never worked with before. It was a video that we were like, "That would be interesting -- us battling ourselves," especially three different versions of ourselves! Everything was just so interesting about that video -- the whole wardrobe, the hair, the makeup, the style of dance. Everything was just really well thought-out.

VH1: The "Soldier" video, though, is just you, an SUV and some dudes.

Beyonce: We actually decided to do the complete opposite of "Lose My Breath." That was such a big production and very technical. We stripped it completely down -- black and white. There was no treatment. It was just us having a good time, basically, with a bunch of nice guys. [Laughs]

Kelly: Soldiers! What was cool, we also featured the different regions [we sing about, like East Coast and Down South]. We showed how artistically it could be done from the cars to the guys, to the style of our clothes and everything. That video is our favorite.

Beyonce: It actually is! And we didn't expect it to be, but it is our favorite. [Watch Clip]

VH1: You have a very physical live show. What do you do to stay in shape?

Beyonce: Dancing to those songs in the heels -- that keeps us in shape! When we go on tour, we get a lot more disciplined, because we have a little stability in our lives. We get to the next city and we have gyms in the hotel. But it's hard when we're doing promotional things because we're up at four in the morning -- we don't go to bed until whatever time.

VH1: What's the tour like?

Beyonce: The tour doesn't start until April. We start in Australia, Japan, all over Europe, Spain, and then we come over to America in June? July? July -- I think until September. We haven't done a tour together in years, so we've all been watching Broadway plays and musicals. Whenever we see three women [together], we're thinking ...

Michelle: ... That's us!

Beyonce: ... that's our new style. We have so many ideas bottled up inside. The great thing about our show: we can give you a big production and a very entertaining show, but we also can give you three stools, a spotlight and some mikes and sing a cappella. So it's from one extreme to the next. [Watch Clip]

VH1: One of the best things you ever did was at the Concert for New York City where it was just three stools and a guitarist.

Beyonce: Thank you! That's our favorite thing to do, actually. The dancing and all of that is great, but it's nothing like three-part harmony. This is something that connects us together and it's still so wonderful and pure.

VH1: Michelle, what did you learn from performing on Broadway?

Michelle: Broadway is excellent. I wish the girls could do some Broadway. It's life-changing.

Beyonce: She got some tips!

Michelle: Oh, I got some tips! There are some secrets that Broadway has, y'know, so I think I'm gonna tell them. We're gonna share all of our secrets that we've learned throughout the years!

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