When my Senior Editor sent me a text late one night that only read “URGENT!!!” (preceded by two phone calls back to back), I was worried. Then when I responded and she only casually asked me about my plans for the next day, I was confused (and annoyed). It was only then she said, “No, you’re interviewing Beyonce.” And then I was happy. Like drug-induced happy. But that was quickly replaced by skepticism because I’m a jaded journalist and artists cancel all the time. ALL THE TIME. Minutes before. Hours later. Often with apologies that don’t matter. So, I refused to believe this news until I actually saw Beyonce in front of me, likely towering over me in heels I’d never be able to walk in and sporting the wavy hair I’ve been trying to perfect to no avail.
For the same reason (skepticism), I didn’t tell anybody either – hid it from my friends, family & co-workers – which I discovered is a lot like trying to hide the fact that you’re…well, pregnant. (Oh, me and Bey, one and the same! Not.) But that’s how it went down. I spent the rest of the night treating the interview as if it were a date, trying on clothes and tearing them off. Things I’d had for years suddenly didn’t fit. Things that once complemented each other were now clashing. Your mind really starts to unravel once it finds out it’s going to meet Beyonce. Just completely deteriorates. You become convinced (convinced, I tell you!) that if you dress just well enough, she’ll be so impressed, she’ll make you her stylist. And that if you ask the right question – one she hasn’t heard in her 15 years in the business – she’ll be so dazzled, she’ll make you her publicist. All current position-holders will be fired. You and Beyonce are now best friends. Now, try going to sleep knowing that your life’s about to change. TRY!
The Downtown Dream hotel did a very good job of pretending that one of most famous people in the world wasn’t inside of it, stories up in the Presidential Suite. But they did an even better job of acting like I didn’t belong there. There’s always an issue with “the list.” The damn list. Are you on it? Who are you with? Is that ‘cheese’ like mouse? Or ‘chess’ like the game? Finally, I was escorted to a floor that could only be accessed with a key you can’t touch. And brought to an all-white room (naturally) where I, and other journalists, were told to wait because Beyonce was taking a break. Which might as well have translated to “she’s resting” because nobody spoke over a whisper for the next 40 minutes. Nobody ate the cookies that were brought in and handed to (of course) a waiter on a dome-covered silver serving dish. Nobody sat. And the few that did, tip-toed over to the seat in their stilettos and slowly lowered themselves onto it, hoping to momentarily become weightless so as not to make a sound. And everybody wore black. Ha! So I would stand out.
We were all there to interview Beyonce about her third fragrance, Pulse. We could take no pictures and ask two questions each, none of which could be “personal.” Fun times. Julius the bodyguard poked his head out of the secret room her handlers had only gestured towards up until that point, but I didn’t take this warning seriously. Bright blue orchids accentuated the room, placed on tables alongside the same-color samples of the fragrance; the bottle, a uniquely-designed, upside-down structure topped (or bottomed?) with an asymmetrical chrome cap. Citrus notes in the front, vanilla in the back, and all around sexy. I doused myself in that s***. I was going to get something out of this, dammit! (Again, not believing any of this to be true.)
And then, it happened. After a lot of standing, and shifting weight, and checking the recorder to see if it was, indeed, still working and double-checking the notebook to make sure, ya know, the questions hadn’t disappeared off the page, we were summoned. And a chick cuts in front of me, making me second in line. I curse her under my breath. I walk in and Beyonce’s sitting there – all smiles, actually glowing – on a couch draped with a white fur throw, playing up the all-white room in a rich purple Catherine Malandrino maxi dress (with ruching around the belly of course) and yes, the hair. I introduce myself and mindlessly shake her hand. And then I curse myself under my breath because nobody respects or remembers a weak handshake, Danielle. Nobody. A missed opportunity if there ever was one. BFF mission aborted. [Follow me on Twitter at @DanielleSaid]
HB: Other than performing, what makes your pulse race?
Whenever I do a movie, I’m very nervous because it’s like my college. I’m never around new people for longer than a day unless maybe we’re touring. Because it’s something I do outside of my main job, I still feel like I have so much to learn. I get so inspired when I do a film and really learn about myself. A lot of it is psychological, you don’t judge the characters and it brings out things in you. So every time I do a movie, the first day when we have that table reading, I’m like, “Oh my God. What am I doing here?” [laughs] But I think that any beautiful moment in your life makes your pulse race. Even the scary pulse race is necessary for anything important because there is something, fear and anxiety, that makes you want to go and jump and just trust yourself and go to that next level. You always have the most personal growth when it’s something a bit scary.
HB: The faintest smell can bring back the most forgotten memory, what will you always remember about your surroundings from the moment you found out you were expecting?
That’s a good question! I can say right now, one of my favorite scents – before I wore fragrances, I wore baby lotion and baby powder. I think they smell so good…I just can’t wait to have an excuse to smell that way as an adult! [laughs]
Are you craving anything special now?
I don’t really have any different cravings from the ones that I had before. I’ve always liked food that is not good for you, and I still do. But I think I’ve been really good with eating healthy. I think probably the biggest thing is french fries, but that’s nothing new. Right now, I’m trying to force myself to drink water with lemon. Bo-ring.
Do you wear the same perfume every day?
I do. I’m really loyal and I’m really busy, so I have my fragrance in my bag, and every couple of hours, I go somewhere different and I [motions spraying her neck] ‘psst, psst, psst’ [laughs]. I like the idea of walking past and my husband saying, “My wife was here.” I like that idea.
What must-have beauty product would you give to your best friend?
All of my friends already have Pulse, so I would give them…what would I give them? What would I give them? I’m the worst! My friends always give me the products because I’m so behind, but I use a really good moisturizer called Diamond Creme by Natura Bisse. It’s really light. I’ve given it a lot, I always turn my friends onto it.
They say there’s a message in every bottle. What does Pulse say?
Electricity. Hopefully, this will bring out the electricity in every woman. Something you just can’t help but feel. I know the strength and confidence that I feel on stage was really put into the packaging and all of the passion behind the fragrance. And I hope that it’ll be very similar to the commercial, that everything you touch becomes lightning! [laughs]
There’s a lot of controversy over the messages kids are getting from pop culture. Will you let your child be exposed to it?
Of course! You can’t escape pop culture. I think it’s really important for your parents to be your parents and to communicate with their children and to lead by example and not preach. Then, your kids will respect and admire you. They won’t make certain decisions because they want to be like you and that’s hopefully the type of relationship I’ll have with my child. I know that’s how I was with my mother. When my friends’ parents told them things, they wouldn’t listen because they didn’t want to be like them, but I wanted to be like my mother. I believed what she said. There were certain things that just made sense because she lived it. And I think that’s how you raise your kids. You can’t blame another adult and their life choices on the choices that your children make.
What’s the best advice you got on confidence that you would tell little girls that look up to you?
My mother always taught me that beauty comes from within and you have to have more to you than outer beauty because it’s gonna fade. And I’ve noticed how many beautiful people are in the world. I mean, especially now! You have to have more than that and you have to really focus on personal growth and who you are and what you want to leave. What is your legacy?
What kind of woman wears Pulse?
A woman that wants to stand out. A woman that is powerful. A woman that is confident and sexy and strong. And a woman that wants to leave a lasting impression.
If you were to write for a book for mothers-to-be, what would the advice on the first page say?
I would want them to really think about how amazing they are and how lucky they are to be a woman. And how powerful they are. And I’d tell them to love every day of it because it’s the biggest miracle and a woman that’s able to give birth is the most important, lucky, fortunate woman in the world.
Pulse seems to be extension of your artistic work, how did you approach this new endeavor?
I think about Elizabeth Taylor who is one of the most beautiful icons and I think about her White Diamonds fragrance. She lives forever in the fragrance. I know she’s done incredible movies and she’s an icon for a lot of reasons but one of the things that is still so relevant right now, that kids and teenagers know her because of, is her fragrance. And for me to have the opportunity to have my statement fragrance and leave my legacy is really a huge accomplishment for me. I’ve endorsed other fragrances before this, but they weren’t mine. And for someone to ask you: ‘If you had a fragrance or a potion, what would it be?’ I had to really think about that. I have different emotions like every women, so every fragrance is a little bit different. It’s just a different experience and it teaches me about how I feel because the first thing we talk about when we develop the fragrance is, ‘What do you want to say?’ And I’m all about empowerment and enhancing inner beauty. All the product images have a glow coming from behind me because it’s all from here [points to chest] and this hopefully will bring it out and make you a little bit more confident when you walk into a room or go on a date or for a job or go on stage.
Are you looking forward to motherhood?
I am so looking forward to it. I made sure I had a strong foundation before I became pregnant and I think that’s the most important thing. There were a lot of things that I wanted to do personally so that when the time came, I really knew who I was and could be the best mother.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
I just started my production company and I’ve been managing myself and I want to develop new artists and I want to do a maternity line. I want to get into health and fitness just because I did a song and choreography for kids to encourage them to move around and take cake of themselves because of child obesity. Before I was 9, I was a little chubby and my mom put me in dance classes and I fell in love. It gave me so much confidence. I just feel like music is great but being a singer or a celebrity or on magazines is not the only thing that my life is about, so figuring out ways to continue to encourage women and kids that admire me to leave a really good stamp on the world.
I hear you’re working on the remake of “A Star Is Born” with Clint Eastwood. Are you worried about the comparisons to Barbra Streisand?
If you’re comparing me to Barbra, that’s the biggest compliment! Please compare me to Barbra Stresiand [laughs]. I think she is incredible and I’ve learned a lot from her. She wasn’t afraid of taking risks and taking control. She directed. She has one of the most beautiful voices and can sell out a tour whenever she wants to. She’s an incredible mother. She has an Oscar and is a respected actress, as well as a respected singer. I just think she took control and that’s the way a woman is supposed to be. So it’s a lot of pressure, but it makes my pulse race! [laughs]