Destiny's Child Superstar Heads to a Golden Big Screen DebutAs co-founder and lead singer of the hit trio Destiny's Child, Beyoncé Knowles has rapidly emerged as one of the true superstars of American music. Now about to head to a cinema near you as Austin Powers' butt-kicking sidekick in "Goldmember", Knowles has little time for a life, as PAUL FISCHER discovered when he recently met the ravishing star in Los Angeles.
Beyoncé Knowles walks into the room with a quiet confidence. Beautiful and alluring, Knowles is wearing an off-the-shoulder blouse, simple trousers and a large plastic crucifix is draped centrally below her neckline. "I wore it to match my earrings," she says grinning and not for any religious significance. Despite that, the 21-year old star adds that religion is a strong part of who she is. "I have a strong belief in God and I love going to church, in that I feel like when I go there I can cry and kind of FEEL." It's that determination to feel that drew a very young Knowles to music, as she loved the emotion of it all. "I loved being on the stage," she recalls. "I guess I was really shy and I felt that I could express myself and perform and do what was in my heart on the stage. I felt comfortable on the stage."
Now Knowles' comfort level extends to the big screen, as she stars opposite a venerable Mike Myers in the latest Austin Powers comedy, "Goldmember". Partially set in the seventies, the singer-cum-actress plays Foxxy Cleopatra, based on the Blaxploitation characters made famous by Pam Grier in the mid-seventies. She describes Foxxy as being "very tough, who shoots her guns, kicks people's butts and she is very funny, with a dry sense of humour." Knowles adds that the character is "very smart, which is good, and she has a lot of substance." In addition, Knowles loved the idea of being able to "sing, dance, be all of these great things and wear these great costumes, which I loved."
While her movie debut appears like a seamless transition from her music, Knowles never planned on being a part of the Austin Powers franchise. The singer was planning a tour of Europe with Destiny's Child at the same time as the audition process was underway, but then September 11th happened so they cancelled the tour. Instead, she read with Mike Myers and the gig was hers.
Discussing her transition to acting further, Knowles wanted to ensure that her first big screen move didn't seem forced. "I was scared because some singers who become actors get a lot of criticism. I didn't want to be one of those singers who said: Okay, we've sold records, so now I'm going to act. They approached me and I got the part, so it was great. I just wanted to make sure I delivered the right performance."
Much has changed since this Houston native was 8 years old and she entered her first singing contest. Now at a mature 21, Knowles has never looked back, though at times, even while being interviewed, Knowles craves the right balance between anonymity and the fame that has become a part of her life. "It's crazy because I want to be a good interview but I also want to have a life and it's hard to find the balance. I want to do well and be successful, but I don't want to be THAT famous where I can't go anywhere; it's hard," Knowles concedes.
Which is why, on her recent world tour with Destiny's Child, she found solace in Phuket, at a beachside Thai resort. "There was something about Phuket that I loved, where people rode on bikes or out on the elephant in the water and it was humid and I walked around bear-footed and nobody knew or cared who I was." Knowles also fell in love with Australia, where her tour originated earlier this year. "We went on the beach and people didn't bother us. I fell in love with Brisbane - it's a cute place and the people are wild," she laughingly says.
Despite Knowles' maturity, there is a girlish quality inherent in the performer, a quality which she tries to escape to when not being mobbed by an insistent media. "I still like roller coasters, talking on the phone and being silly," Knowles explains when talking about those times when she is more of a little girl. "I like when people are silly because then I can be silly." Especially since she missed out on a conventional childhood and the school-based fun and games that went along with it. "I had a tutor, which is very serious and boring, nor was I ever a cheerleader or went to games or any of those things, so when I'm able to, I want to do stuff that is fun."
Knowles, who remains the driving force behind Destiny's Child, recalls having always been very serious about her singing, which is why she has never experienced the pure joy of childhood. "I've had the responsibility since I was 15 of someone who is 25 or 30, so now I have a lot of pressure. I employ a lot of people, I make a lot of adult decisions, and that has forced me to grow up a little faster." Yet through it all, this grown up child of destiny has no regrets. "I love what I do and I love to perform; that's what fuels me."
Knowles takes a ferociously active interest in what is written about her and the group, which is why, at the tender of age of 20, she co-wrote an autobiography of Destiny's Child, "Soul Survivors: The Official Autobiography of Destiny's Child", which was published this April. While that suggests that at least professionally, her life is over; Knowles knew why she and the other group members, felt the need to put pen to paper. "To be honest with you there are hundreds of biographies that are so wrong and that have so many wrong facts. People are reading them while others are making this money off of it and it's like, hey, if you all are going to make money off of fake quotes, we need to put a book out with the real story, which is what we did."
Of course, biography or not, Knowles' life remains consistently busy. She has her solo debut album due out later this year, which she says reflects who the singer is at this time in her life, since Destiny's Child's best-selling "Survivor" was released in May of last year. "In a year I have grown so much and it's clear that I have changed, so I know the music will sound different." It remains untitled, but Knowles insists on first taking a break. She will write most of the album and she hopes to collaborate with some of her heroes such as Stevie Wonder and Otis Redding.
As to a future career in the movies, the beautiful performer is not ruling that out. "I am definitely looking forward to seeing what's going to happen, 'cause every time I do a film I leave with more friends and more experience, life experience. I mean I didn't go to school and usually that's when you socially develop. You are always around people and you make friends and learn about yourself and the personality of others and what you like and don't like about people, so this is like my school. I might find my boyfriend there; I might find my enemy there. Who knows? But, it's exciting for me every time."
And there is still room in her life for the group that started it all: Destiny's Child. "I love singing in Destiny's Child; I always have and I'm sure I always will. The great thing is every time we do something individually, everybody gets a little better and it makes the group a lot better. Destiny's Child is still together, we love each other and Kelly is my best friend in the world and I'm not worried about that," she insists.