“I’m grateful I have the ability to choose what I want to share...Throughout my career, I’ve been intentional about setting boundaries between my stage persona and my personal life.” These are just some of the tidbits shared by the often enigmatic Beyoncé in the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar—in which she gives a rare and somewhat revealing interview for the aptly titled “Icons Issue,” on the cusp of her 40th birthday on September 4.
The well-themed four covers were photographed 2020 The Glow Up 50 honoree Campbell Addy and styled by Bazaar’s first Black editor-in-chief and 2021 TGU honoree Samira Nasr and longtime Beyoncé stylist Marni Senofonte, with 2021 TGU honoree Jawara on hair alongside makeup artist Francesca Tolot. The interview, penned by Kaitlin Greenidge with what are presumably written responses from Beyoncé is titled “Beyoncé’s Evolution.” As such, it retraces the entertainer-entrepreneur’s roots, which tellingly also inspired not only the shoot but her rodeo-themed collection for Ivy Park x Adidas, due to drop August 19.
“This collection is a mixture of my childhood growing up in Texas and a bit of American history. I grew up going to the Houston rodeo every year.” Bey explains, noting that for the first time, this collection will also include children’s sizes. “One of my inspirations came from the overlooked history of the American Black cowboy...They took their talents and formed the Soul Circuit. Through time, these Black rodeos showcased incredible performers and helped us reclaim our place in western history and culture.”
As an incredible performer herself, Beyoncé has arguably done the same. As she shares, it was all fueled by her dreams—and, as she forecasts her future, still is.
The first decade of my life was dedicated to dreaming. Because I was an introvert, I didn’t speak very much as a child. I spent a lot of time in my head building my imagination. I am now grateful for those shy years of silence. Being shy taught me empathy and gave me the ability to connect and relate to people. I’m no longer shy, but I’m not sure I would dream as big as I dream today if it were not for those awkward years in my head.
Despite training for the stage since age seven, “No one in my school knew that I could sing because I barely spoke,” she reveals, explaining that her primary focus was getting Destiny’s Child a record deal. “If something wasn’t helping me reach my goal, I decided to invest no time in it. I didn’t feel like I had time to “kiki” or hang out. I sacrificed a lot of things and ran from any possible distraction. I felt as a young Black woman that I couldn’t mess up...That meant I was the most careful, professional teenager and I grew up fast.”
The sacrifices clearly paid off by her 20s, by which time she was not only a household name but an increasingly independent woman (pun intended). It was the decade she went solo, later dropping her father as her manager and launching Parkwood Entertainment to manage her 360-degree career.
“At the time, there wasn’t a company that did what I needed it to do or ran the way I wanted it run,” she explains. “So, I created this multipurpose badass conglomerate that was a creative agency, record label, production company, and management company to produce and work on projects that meant the most to me. I wanted to manage myself and have a company that put art and creativity first.”
By Bey’s 30s, it was family first as she became a mother, significantly shifting her priorities and purpose—as well as giving us the more daring and genre-blurring works that were Beyoncé, Lemonade and Black Is King. “My 30s were about starting my family and my life becoming more than my career,” she says. “I worked to heal generational trauma and turned my broken heart into art that would help move culture forward and hopefully live far beyond me. My 30s were about digging deeper.”
With 40 on the horizon, Beyoncé’s next decade seems to be more focused on self-preservation, in addition to unceasing progress. She muses about discovering the benefits of CBD and rituals, and cultivating her own hemp and honey farm (yes, Queen Bey even has literal hives on her roof). In a moment relatable to most women (and more than a few folks, in general), she also admits to having “felt the pressure of being the backbone of my family and my company...I have not always made myself a priority.”
“In the past, I spent too much time on diets, with the misconception that self-care meant exercising and being overly conscious of my body,” she further explains, noting elsewhere that her “first introduction to beautiful women was curvy, Texas-bred, bean-and-cornbread-fed goddesses.” Now, she says, “My health, the way I feel when I wake up in the morning, my peace of mind, the number of times I smile, what I’m feeding my mind and my body—those are the things that I’ve been focusing on.”
More from Beyoncé on her particular brand of work-life balance:
In this business, so much of your life does not belong to you unless you fight for it. I’ve fought to protect my sanity and my privacy because the quality of my life depended on it. A lot of who I am is reserved for the people I love and trust. Those who don’t know me and have never met me might interpret that as being closed off. Trust, the reason those folks don’t see certain things about me is because my Virgo ass does not want them to see it....It’s not because it doesn’t exist!
What will Bey’s fans see as the icon turns 40? More music, she promises. “I feel a renaissance emerging,” she says, noting that she’s spent the better part of our pandemic-induced quarantine in the studio. “[T]here’s nothing like the amount of love, passion, and healing that I feel in the recording studio...After 31 years, it feels just as exciting as it did when I was nine years old. Yes, the music is coming!”
So, perhaps we can look forward to a 40:44 (or 40/40, or 40-licious...) in the near future. In the meantime, as is appropriate for any B’Day girl, Beyoncé made a few wishes:
“My wish is for my 40s to be fun and full of freedom. I want to feel the same freedom I feel on stage every day of my life...I’ve done so much in 40 years that I just want to enjoy my life” she says, adding: “I have paid my dues and followed every rule for decades, so now I can break the rules that need to be broken. My wish for the future is to continue to do everything everyone thinks I can’t do.”
“I’ve spent so many years trying to better myself and improve whatever I’ve done that I’m at a point where I no longer need to compete with myself. I have no interest in searching backwards,” she also notes. “The past is the past. I feel many aspects of that younger, less evolved Beyoncé could never [fuck] with the woman I am today. Haaa!”
Beyoncé’s full interview is available now on HarpersBazaar.com.