Beyonce interview: 'Motherhood has changed everything'

By Michele Manelis

Heading to Auckland on her world tour and turning up in a new kids' movie, Beyonce talks to Michele Manelis about maintaining her own identity - whatever name she's using.

There are many rituals an artist may perform before taking to the stage.

For Beyonce, who heads to Auckland for her first solo shows in New Zealand, marking the final leg of The Mrs Carter Show World Tour, it's a question of working her way through a list: God, make-up, music and muscles ...

"I say a prayer with all of my bandmates, and then we do a stretch. Recently, I got a chair that gives a great massage, so I sit in that while they do my hair and makeup and it gives me an hour of peace," she says.

"Also, as part of my pre-show ritual, I have a playlist I listen to every day, which takes me a few hours."

That tour name might have come as a surprise to many fans who know her best for female empowerment anthems such as Run the World (Girls).

"I called it Mrs Carter because I feel like I have really grown as a person. I'm a married woman now, it's my name, it's who I am, and I'm proud of it. It's also my daughter's name and to me, 'Mrs Carter' just feels very strong."

And while she's been Beyonce Knowles-Carter since marrying rapper Jay-Z (Shawn Carter) in 2008, she's now a one-name popstar and a global brand who Forbes named as the 17th most powerful woman on the planet in their list in May.

The former lead voice in late 90s R&B trio Destiny's Child has also referred to herself by her alter ego, Sasha Fierce, the force of nature she becomes when she unleashes her sexual energy and sassy demeanour in her live performances.

"That persona is not me at all in real life," she has said. In fact, in person, as she promotes her role in animated movie Epic, she's very softly spoken.

"As far as names, I have lots of different ones I go by. I'll be who-knows-what in a few more months. I like to play around with personas and I always create a character with my music and my tours. Audiences understand that once they've seen the live show."

Her tour, which began in April, has taken her all over the world, quite a feat for a woman adjusting to her new role as a mother.

Blue Ivy Carter was born in January 2012.

"Motherhood has changed everything for me, of course. I'm a lot braver and I'm more secure, I have more purpose. I feel like you see things a bit differently after you give birth and my biggest job is to protect her. And at the same time, there's a moment after giving birth of rediscovering who you are and making sure you still have your goals and that you still take care of yourself as a woman."

The multi award-winning artist has sold in excess of 118 million records worldwide from her solo career, and a further 60 million with Destiny's Child, establishing her as one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Earning an average of US$70 million [$89.7 million] per year and with Jay-Z, whose reported net worth is US$500 million, they are the world's first billion-dollar couple in the music industry.

But Beyonce insists her superstar persona only rears its head onstage, otherwise, she's just a regular mum.

"I perform onstage a few hours of my day; the rest of the time I'm changing diapers," she laughs. "And I enjoy it. I'd definitely like to have more children and I look forward to that."

Next up, Beyonce will make her animated feature debut in voicing the lead role in Epic, based on the William Joyce's children's book, The Leaf Men And The Brave Good Bugs. She plays Queen Tara, alongside such actors as Colin Farrell, Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, and Chris O'Dowd. "I've always wanted to be the voice of a queen and when I saw what Queen Tara looked like, it was beyond anything I could imagine," she gushes. "She was beyond Beyonce. She's just so glamorous and graceful. I also felt it would be something that would leave a legacy for my daughter.

She's dabbled in movies since playing Foxxy Cleopatra in the Austin Powers sequel Goldmember in 2002, but her screen roles have largely been confined to playing singers, with a role in the musical Dreamgirls (2006) and in Cadillac Records, in which she played soul-blues singer Etta James.

When it comes to her legion of fans, Beyonce is regarded as a queen of sorts, in her own right. She laughs. "Not with my family, they treat me like they always have. My mother said, 'Girl, you are so not a queen'. So it's good to have that balance."

With a career in music and movies, Beyonce seems to have it all.

"Right now I'm making sure I'm a strong woman and I'm maintaining my business but also making time for my child and balancing the two. That is something I'm struggling with. I'm trying to smell the roses and make sure that I don't work so hard that I don't enjoy the blessings that are around me every day."

Read more: Beyonce tour: So what's the show like?

Who: Beyonce
When and where: Vector Arena, Auckland, Friday, October 18
Also: Epic, the animated movie opens at cinemas today

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