I first met Beyonce Knowles in May of 1999, during the height of Destiny’s Child’s sophomore solo CD, “The Writing’s On The Wall.” The first major story I broke as a journalist was that original members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson were ousted from the group.
But I knew even then that Knowles would be a huge solo star. In addition to her pitch-perfect vocals, incredible showmanship and incomparable work ethic, she was always very pleasant the numerous times I encountered her.
In September 2003, Paramount Pictures brought me to New York City to interview the Destiny’s Child diva about her starring role in “The Fighting Temptations.” She walked into the interview room at the Essex House Hotel and impressed me when she looked over at her overprotective bodyguard, attentive assistant and the rest of the handlers to tell them: “I’m cool.” That was her way of asking them to leave the room and in an instant, they did.
Knowles was gracious during our interview, regularly smiling and showcasing her southern belle attributes. For this week’s Throwback Thursday feature, take a look at my interview with Knowles, which originally ran in my “Jawn’s Juice” column on Sept. 16, 2003.
On The Record With Beyonce
Why did you decide to star in “The Fighting Temptations?”
“I was attracted to this film because of the music, for one. The next film I told my agent that I wanted to do was something natural and unglamorous, and she gave me this script. I really liked it and the idea of working with Cuba [Gooding Jr.]. There was so many other people that the pressure wouldn’t only be on me. I thought the whole theme of it was nice, refreshing and uplifting. It’s something different than people would expect.”
How did you feel about the church theme of the film?
“I grew up in church, and I related because I know sometimes how church people can be. In the movie, that’s what it talks about. I grew up around positive women. My mother owned a hair salon and worked in a hair salon, and I grew around all of these women. They were strong, some of them were single mothers, and I liked being able to play someone who didn’t have a perfect life.
“I was excited, and another thing that attracted the movie to me [is that] R&B music comes from gospel. We’re all influenced by all of the people that were in it like Shirley Caesar and Ann Nesby. These are people I thought I’d never be able to sing with or do a movie with. Working in the studio with The O’Jays and Angie Stone, they have so much soul and I could watch that and pick up certain things. I thought it was beautiful that there were so many different genres of music from Lil’ Zane to T-Bone, and it was great to see Melba Moore. It came together and the camaraderie between us really worked.”
What would you like your next film project to be?
“I want to do something where I can play a character a little more vulnerable and less strong, something a little darker. I’m not sure if my next film will be that, but eventually I want to do that. I like Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand, and a lot of the people that were able to be great as both. It’s just important for me to be respected as an actress and as a singer. That’s why I haven’t jumped at the first movie where I had the starring role. I want to be around for a long time, and I want to take my time.”
Why did Solange’s solo debut flop?
“She’s so talented! It’s hard when you are someone’s sister because people don’t give you a chance. She’s growing up and writing so many songs. She’s in the studio right now and is working and becoming so incredible.”
How do you feel being compared with Ashanti?
“I‘m not competing at all with anyone. I didn‘t see a lot of the things [written about the two of us] because I was over in Europe. It‘s crazy to me that when a young, successful black girl is doing well, then of course they’re going to do that. I‘m just happy. I‘ve been doing this for a long time — seven years now. I got the opportunity to do my first record, and I‘m happy to see another young lady doing well.”
Everyone is so interested in your relationship with Jay-Z. You’ve never addressed it.
“I don’t really talk about that. The hardest thing is keeping my personal life private and don’t let people take advantage of me.”
What’s next for her career?
“I’m trying to get together a tour of all women. It’s hard because of everyone’s schedule. Destiny’s Child [returns] next year. Kelly just had a number one movie and Michelle is working on her next album. Hopefully I still have two more singles off of [“Dangerously In Love”]. I do want to do another movie, and I want it to come out next summer. I’m getting a lot of scripts, and I am being really picky.”
Additionally, Knowles said her wish list for the all-female tour includes Mary J. Blige, Mya, Monica and Ashanti.
She revealed that she and her mom Tina Knowles are still developing a clothing line that she hopes will be out next year.
Knowles said she would love to star on Broadway.
Lastly, she said that if the perfect script presented itself, she would love to do a movie with her Destiny’s child band mates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.
Beyonce did go out on that all female tour and her touring partners were Alicia Keys, Missy Elliott and Tamia.
She and her mother also launched their House of Dereon line.
That relationship with Jay-Z, that she didn’t want to discuss, has resulted in her marrying the rapper in April 2008. The couple gave birth to their first child, Blue Ivy Carter, in January of this year.