RUN THE WORLD
Beyond Beyoncé the performer, however, there's Beyoncé the global celebrity, with a carefully crafted image that she has honed for over a decade. She's a professional who can be a homebody, akin to the business executive-turned-first lady Michelle Obama, whom Beyoncé has repeatedly praised. She's an entrepreneur with an expanding brand, a young Oprah for the 21st century: a clothing line, a production company, endorsement deals--hello Pepsi. While Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, advises women to "Lean In," the title of her new book, Beyoncé idealistically tells girls that they can "run the world."It's that hard-working, hard-charging personal narrative that now powers her upcoming HBO documentary, written, produced, and directed by, of course, Beyoncé. In the age of Katy Perry and Rihanna, her (somewhat) contemporaries, Beyoncé has rarely misstepped. She's the glamorous yet down-to-earth girl next door, the elder sister to Taylor Swift, and the one Adele grew up idolizing. She can duet with Gaga, Alicia Keys, and Shakira, all different artists with different visions, but more than hold her own. No wonder she ended marrying Jay-Z, making her possibly the only woman who can, literally, figuratively, and musically "upgrade" him. The woman has got swag.
In a relatively open and honest interview with GQ--in the past Beyoncé has taken "guarded" to a whole new level--Queen Bey, with little trace of self-awareness, says: "I now know that, yes, I am powerful. I'm more powerful than my mind can even digest and understand."
More than any other pop star, Bey has made a business out of being perfect in an imperfect world. That's why the lip-syncing controversy made headlines the way it did--Beyoncé, faking the perfection? And that is precisely the tension that will keep watching Beyoncé so thrilling. The tension between her studied, choreographed, hard-earned perfection and the surprising, liberating abandon of a continually evolving artist striving to be authentically herself. Nobody is that perfect, not even Beyoncé, but for her sake and ours, she sure will keep trying.
What's next? Her own record company? A Broadway show, an original one-woman musical that traces the genesis of the black female performer, from Diana Sands and Josephine Baker to Whitney Houston? More albums, more acting, more concerts?
The answer is, the possibilities seem limitless. The struggle for perfection continues.
She is, after all, only 31 years old.
Jose Antonio Vargas is a journalist and the founder of Define American, which seeks to elevate how we talk about immigration. Watch and support the Define American's Super Bowl ad aimed at strategic markets.