Kelly Rowland on the Incredible Power of Girl Groups
Kelly Rowland’s back — but then again, she never really left.
The O.G. Destiny’s Child member has a new BET show, “Chasing Destiny,” where she mentors a girl group in the vein of DC.
We caught up with Kelly to talk about girl groups, empowerment, her new show, and her favorite songs from her own catalogue. Plus we’ve got some fire photos of the R&B diva. Read on!
Hi, Kelly! Where are you calling from?
I’m actually in LA in my bed.
You have a docu-series coming out with BET — tell us about it.
I felt like there was a void in the marketplace with girl groups. I’ve been wanting to put together a girl group since Destiny’s Child’s very last tour. Between that time, I was busy with my solo projects and I said that if I wanted to basically bring a group under my wing, then I wanted to be able to have the attention to pay to them, to nurture them, to be sure that I could be there to help mold them and I wouldn’t be so busy with things I had to do.
Basically the longer I waited, the more I felt like there was a huge gap in the marketplace for girl groups. I was like, where are all the girl groups? I put a girl group together, Little Mix, and it was so much fun. And then of course a couple of years passed and “X-Factor” [let to the rise of] Fifth Harmony and I’m like, only two girl groups? That’s all we get?
So basically, I just knew it was time for me to really start the documentary, and I wanted of course my partner Frank Gaston to be on board with me. We just got started and I remember talking to different networks about the idea, and some people didn’t get it and they thought it would be another “Making the Band.” But that’s not what I wanted at all. I wanted the cameras to be there to catch it all and I didn’t want there to be a specific formula in the show, and a lot of people would be scared of that. I’m just happy my BET family loved it.
How was the talent selection process?
We have gone to look at about almost 1,000 girls nationwide. We’ve seen a lot of girls. A lot of girls. We’ve been able to go through the ladies with a fine-tooth comb and be very specific for girls who have potential and girls who are extremely talented and are already groomed, and we’ve gone through the ladies really, really thoroughly, and are very excited with what we have so far.
How do you make sure you’re picking girls who fans will relate to?
I just wanted to make sure that I tapped into the feeling of the way I felt when I saw TLC. Or the way I felt when I saw En Vogue. Or even the way I felt when I saw Janet Jackson. She’s this huge pop star and her skin color looked like mine. I feel like it’s so important for young girls to feel like they can see someone who looks like them who they can identify with and they can hope and they can dream and they can see someone who works hard. You see them with great work ethic and working with other females and camaraderie. That’s what was so great to me about Destiny’s Child and what was so powerful about Destiny’s Child — how empoweried we made other women feel.
I can’t stand when people say girls are catty and competitive — and I think successful girl groups prove it’s just not true.
Absolutely. I feel like Destiny’s Child has defied the odds. We come back and forth with doing solo projects, to jumping onstage, to videos to whatever. We are always there to support each other and we still love each other. The greatest gift Destiny’s Child gave me was friendship and I just feel like it can work and it has worked in the past.
You have always seemed to have such a good head on your shoulders despite growing up in the limelight. How?
My faith. I think that to whom much is given much is required. I also think that my momma would knock my head off if I came home with an ego on my shoulders in all honesty. And that’s the truth. I have great people around me. I was raised in a faith-based church and family. You should always be humble because anything can be taken away from you in the blink of an eye, so you appreciate thing while they’re coming and when they’re there. When theyre gone, you have another cycle and come back again and you appreciate the whole process.
Have you ever done a docu-series or reality show before?
Not at all. When I tell you I literally was flying at the seat of my pants I was, hand to heart, so serious in this whole process. I literally just jumped. I’m so grateful I could claim all the other folks I have on my staff helping me on this project jumped with me and they thought I was crazy and they were like, we don’t know how episode such-and-such is gonna work, and I said it’s going to come together, its going to come together, because that’s waht documentaries are. That’s what they feel like. Nothing is planned, you let the cameras roll. And it’s great TV.
I wish there were more cameras around when Destiny’s Child was coming up. It was such an interesting time for us, being teens and growing up in the limelight. I wish we would have done a documentary. That’s probably how this idea conjured up. Man, we have such great dynamics. People dont know about the 14-hour, 12-hour days, jumping from one thing to another, one country to the next country, to perform. It’s insane. It takes hard work to be great.
How do you act like yourself with all those cameras around?
I just ignore them. It’s not hard, because what I love about my camera guys is that a lot of them have done documetnaries. That’s the background of the camera men I wanted, especially since I’m executive-producing this project. I wanted guys who were shooting documentaries, who had experience in shooting documentaries, and that’s exactly what they did. They made themselves like flies on the wall and the girls who were coming in and auditioning — they forgot they were there. I don’t know how that happened. I don’t know how they do it. But it happened.
On some days we’d have cameras following them on certain shots and having shots we wanted and artistically and creatively looked beautiful, and those things worked too. There were moments when the girls weren’t so used to the cameras and felt like they always had to be on, and I said, “That’s not what this is about. It is about being authentic.” It’s one of the reasons I wanted to shoot the show documentary-style. Don’t worry about the cameras! You dont have to be on and politically correct. Talk about what’s going on with you. If you’re frustrated with a step,talk about it. If you’re irritated with your friend, talk about it. They won’t take anything personal.
Okay, time for our rapid-fire round. Describe your type in three words.
I married my type. Funny, sexy, and spontaneous.
What type would you say you are in three words?
I am chic, I’m fun — I’m a lot of fun. [laughs]
Are you a workout and diet queen or just #blessed?
I have to work out to look blessed.
What’s your favorite workout?
My trainer Jenette Jenkins has me doing all kinds of stuff. We box, we go running, we do cardio blast workouts. She changes up everything, because I get bored quick.
What’s the most common thing Destiny’s Child fans say to you?
How I helped them out of a tough situation in their lives. That’s pretty fucking awesome.
Any specific songs?
My solo song “Dirty Laundry,” a woman came up to me and held my hand and she had tears filling her eyes and she said, “I left. I left because I heard this song. I left.” She squeezed my hand so tight and I remember feeling like, “This is what music is for.” It was awesome.
What’s your favorite Destiny’s Child song you’ll never get sick of?
This later song that we did called “Love.” It’s really dope.
What else can we expect from you besides this new show?
Besides the new show definitely music, I’m putting together a makeup line with my makeup artist, I’m writing a book. I’m really excited. The sky’s the limit. I feel like we’re able to do whatever we wanna do these days and you need to just have fun while you do it.
Meadham Kirchhoff Archive Dress & Vivienne Westwood Shoes
Ashish Dress & Christian Louboutin Shoes
Meadham Kirchhoff Archive Dress, Jenny Packham Diamante Bracelet, Kelly’s Own Bead Bracelet & Necklace
Beyond Retro Dress
Topshop Unique Dress
Meadham Kirchhoff Archive Dress
Topshop Unique Dress
Photography by Charlotte Rutherford at LMC Worldwide
Produced by Luke Miley at LMC Worldwide
Styling by Lola Chatterton
Makeup by Bea Sweet at LMC Worldwide
Hair by Justine Marjan
Manicure by Jessica Scholten at House of Orange
Styling Assistant Lucy Addy
Shot at The Seven Hotel Paris