Everyone knows that Beyoncé is one of the most talented, most hardworking people in show business. Ever since she debuted as a member of R&B girl group Destiny’s Child (and before that, Girl’s Tyme), there’s no disputing the fact that Beyoncé and her music have made an indelible mark on the industry. But Mrs. Knowles Carter also puts her creative genius to use behind the camera. Meet Beyoncé, the director.
Beyoncé opened up about her creative process in a very personal, very candid interview with ELLE. Although she’s been in the spotlight since she was a small child, the Houston native has always been equally interested in the behind-the-scenes aspect of music. “I’ve always had a passion for writing treatments for videos since Destiny’s Child,” the “Kitty Kat” singer shared. “In 2008, I started a production company and sat in a room full of editors who taught me how to use Final Cut Pro.”
She made her official directorial debut in 2013 with the autobiographical documentary Life Is But a Dream. The film, which premiered on HBO, provided fans with a rare glimpse into Beyoncé’s private life, and it was a labour of love that took her more than a year to create. But the endless hours spent painstakingly cutting and editing the documentary lit a directorial fire inside of her, leading to some of the greatest audiovisual works of the 2000s: Beyoncé (2013), Lemonade (2016), and Homecoming (2019).
As an artist dedicated to maintaining control over her work and, ultimately her narrative, Beyoncé intentionally surrounds herself with other powerful women creatives, like Queen & Slim director Melina Matsoukas. The Brooklyn-born director's collaboration with Beyoncé reaches all the way back to 2007, when they worked together to create the visuals for the underrated hit "Green Light" from Bey's sophomore album B'Day. The duo continued working together over the next ten years, the meeting of minds resulting in masterpieces such as the music videos for "Pretty Hurts" and "Formation."
Having personally experienced the challenges of being a Black woman in the industry, Beyoncé has nothing but praise for her friend and work wife. "As a woman, if you are too opinionated, too strong-willed, too anything, you are disregarded," she said of the director, who also photographed her ELLE spread. "I’ve seen this happen to Melina, but she handles it with respect and grace. "
"Melina is a rarity; she has the sensibility to understand fashion, photography, storytelling, history, and culture and is able to seamlessly incorporate those components into her work," Beyoncé continued. "I have trusted Melina for over a decade and created some of my best work with her—from visuals for my music to tour content and now a fashion shoot."
For Beyoncé and the group of Black female creators that she admires — in the interview, she showed loved to Matsoukas's Queen & Slim collaborator Lena Waithe, dream hampton, Adria Petty, Diane Martel, Darnell Martin, and Ava DuVernay — directing is an opportunity to enact agency to create art that is authentic to their stories.
“I realized I had to take control of my work and my legacy because I wanted to be able to speak directly to my fans in an honest way,” Beyoncé said. “I wanted my words and my art to come directly from me.”
The music legend is dedicated to telling her own story in her own way, and it shows; whether it's music, film, or fashion, everything she throws her energy into is authentically Beyoncé.