In 1999, I interviewed Destiny’s Child, (there were still four of them back then). It was an outdoor concert and they were about to take the stage and perform their new song, “Bills Bills Bills.”
During my interview, Beyoncé stood in the middle, her back straight and her smile wide. The other members smiled and nodded. She answered all my questions with no hesitation, making direct eye contact and ending with a firm but friendly handshake.
She was only seventeen years old. But she handled herself…perfectly.
It’s a term that’s been thrown around in the nearly two decades since we met her.
The music, the love life, the career, the fashion—from the outside looking in, it all seemed perfect.
Criticisms have always poured in: She doesn’t write her own songs! She doesn’t support Kelly! She rips off other artists! She lip-syncs!
But the one thing that managed to escape excessive scrutiny was her family. For a long time, the narrative of the Knowles family was mostly squeaky-clean.
Papa Knowles gave up his career to manage hers. Mamma Knowles designed their outfits. Little sister Solange, talented in her own right, was fiercely loyal and close to her big sister.
One big happy family.
We knew better of course. But with no proof of trouble in paradise it was hard to imagine Beyoncé—always so regal and rigid—in an elevator trying to keep her sister from dropkicking her husband.
Finally, we got it. We got a real piece of Bey.
Even though she shook her body for us, gave us good music, entertained us endlessly, Beyoncé never gave us what you really wanted—her. The real her; the one behind the lacefronts and the wind machines and the bootylicious bodysuits.
All we got was perfection. Her personal life has always been as tightly produced and distributed for the masses as her music—if not more so.
Well, what do you know? The Knowles family is a hot mess. Just like yours.
A sister attacking her brother-in-law in an elevator? Whatever. That’s mild stuff for most of us.
Daddy’s got a paternity suit? Cheated on Mom and has an outside kid? Yeah, I dare you to tell me you don’t know at least five people who have the same kind of drama in their own families.
Last week, it was reported that Matthew is being sued by another potential-baby-mama. Pictures of the mystery woman standing next to Solange have surfaced. Messy.
Beyonce’s has a song called Daddy with the line, “I want my husband to be like my Daddy.” And now she’s got to hope the universe wasn’t listening. Ouch.
And the New York Post is quoting those oh-so-common ‘sources’ who say Jay and Bey are this close to splitting up after the tour wraps up.
So, is this it? Are we happy now? Do we feel better knowing that Queen Bey comes off stage after her concert ends and has to deal with half-siblings, flawed fathers and reports of her husband cheating on her?
It’s no surprise that the façade of perfection is dropping as Beyoncé shares more of herself on her own terms as well. She’s on tour right now with her husband. Yet when they got married she still hadn’t confirmed that she even knew the dude.
That life must have been exhausting and she’s clearly enjoying taking down the veil and letting us in. But it comes with a price. The more she gives, the more we want.
Would you be willing to pay that price? Would you take fame and fortune in exchange for the whole world knowing the details of your family drama?
At the end of this article, in the comments section, write your REAL name, what city and state you live in—and a deep, dark secret about your family that no one knows.
The reason why you won’t is because we all cultivate an identity to the outside world. It’s how we deal. It’s normal. Ultimately, we’re all Beyoncé—struggling with a family that’s as flawed and messy as a soap opera.
And we all step out onto our stages each day and try to make sense of it all. —Aliya S. King
Aliya S. King’s work has appeared in national publications since 1998. She is also the author of two novels and three non-fiction books, including the New York Times Bestseller, “Keep The Faith,” with recording artist Faith Evans. Find her at aliyasking.com and @aliyasking.
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