Beyoncé answered press questions that were likely prescreened, but hey, it's a start after practically a three-year hiatus. Yep, she conducted a full-on interview with Elle magazine to promote her new "athleisure" collection, Ivy Park. The clothing line is a co-partnership deal with Topshop.
We haven't heard much from Queen Bey in a few years, so we culled five tidbits from the interview that shed light on what she's thinking about these days and what prompted her to get into the workout-apparel business. She also revealed what she thinks about the controversy surrounding her "Formation" video.
1. After Destiny's Child's first album, the group's record label didn't think the Houston quartet would ever be perceived as a mainstream pop act, so the girls were left up to their own devices as to how to shape and craft their sophomore album. That freedom allowed them to flesh out their own identity, and it made all the difference.
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 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.
2. Ivy Park is not just some plain ol' celebrity endorsement deal that Topshop pitched Beyoncé. Au contraire: Beyoncé pitched Topshop because she's been a fan of the brand for years. She went into the meeting with a marketing plan in tow and a mission statement about why the market desperately needed an activewear brand for women that hugged all kinds of body shapes.
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.
3. She's not certain people understand how simple the concept of feminism is, so that's why she embraced it so vehemently during her previous projects. She thinks both men and women ought to identify as feminists.
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. […] 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?"
4. She's not anti-police; she's anti-officers who abuse their power by shooting unarmed civiilians because of their implicit (or explicit) racial biases. Beyoncé insinuated that she used her "Formation" video to celebrate Black History Month and that people who beefed with it were probably beefing with black pride long before her or the video.
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.
5. She has come to think of pain as a necessary state before a breakthrough enabling you to experience happiness, clarity and contentment.
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!
Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.