Beyonce: 'I'm in no rush to get married'
Singing star Beyonce Knowles shed 20lbs for her role in her latest movie 'Dreamgirls', But as soon as filming was over the star was in a hurry to get back her famous Bootylicious curves, she tells Shereen Low
In a world where American celebrities are rapidly shrinking to US size zero, Beyonce Knowles is a breath of fresh air.
While she's recently been in the spotlight for embarking on a bizarre two-week diet of just maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water to lose weight for new film Dreamgirls, the naturally curvy singer admits that she'd rather be 'bootylicious' than bony.
"It's nice to have curves. You should be happy with them and accept them. I lost a lot of weight for the movie, strictly for the movie - I was way smaller than I thought was attractive for my body. I personally like my natural weight, which is a bit heavier than that," the 24-year-old says.
"I decided to go on a diet. No one told me, and I didn't have to, but I wanted to make a physical transformation because I didn't want people to see 'me' on screen.
"My hair is darker and I wanted my body to look different. It was a sacrifice, and I felt like I looked more appropriate for the time - my character Deena was around during the time Twiggy was hot, so she would have wanted to be thin."
Speaking about her diet, she says: "It wasn't the only way to lose it, but it was the fastest way. The most effective way was to do this fast and it was difficult, as I don't believe in not eating and not being healthy. But I got through it and it worked - I lost about 20lbs."
Once filming was over, Beyonce says she couldn't wait to start eating normally again.
"I ate everything when it was over. That was the fun part - that was easy. I worked out and dieted for the whole movie - it took all that time and hard work to get it [the weight] off, and I swear to you, the second I looked at a donut, it came back! I gained back all the weight, even the weight I didn't want to come back!" she says, laughing.
The attention she garnered for her weight has almost overshadowed the fact that Beyonce, affectionately known as B, is in London to promote her new single, Deja Vu, and forthcoming album, B'Day - the first since 2003's solo debut, Dangerously In Love.
Released on her 25th birthday, Monday, September 4, B'Day was recorded in two weeks and sees her working with the Neptunes, Swizz Beats, Rich Harrison and Rodney Jerkins.
"I was attracted to a lot of really hard beats," she says. "It's very melodic and innovative, with a lot of nice harmonies. It's a strong record of mainly up-tempo songs as I wanted the record to sound like a celebration. It's my day to share my music with the world."
So what else does the singer have planned for her birthday?
"Besides working like crazy, I'm going to have a party after the MTV Video Music Awards four days before my birthday. I'm performing and am going to have an after-party at Jay-Z's club, 40/40. I'll hopefully have a good time, I'm sure I will."
Beyonce has such a strong work ethic that she even cancelled her holiday to work on B'Day.
"I had so many ideas in my head, so I called all these producers and went into the zone for two weeks," she said.
"We recorded 22 songs in that time. I couldn't stop. I didn't want to go home, I was just in the zone. The other writers and I sat around eating turkey sandwiches, chips and listened to songs - it was really magical."
Despite the busy schedule, Beyonce still has time for love. Hip-hop artist Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) is rumoured to be her boyfriend of almost four years, although they have never announced publicly that they are a couple.
When I casually ask what it was like working with her boyfriend in the studio, a quick look passes across her face before she says gushingly: "Erm, I like to work with talented people. I always learn from them, and working with Jay is just like working with any other talented person.
"In my opinion, he's one of the best, if not the best, hip-hop rapper we have. I respect him, as a musician, so I let him do his thing and he lets me do my thing. It's no different from if I was working with anyone else that I've worked with."
The pair have collaborated on a few singles together, including Deja Vu and Upgrade U from B'Day, but Beyonce says there's no great secret to their successful working relationship.
"I don't think it's forced. We've never tried to sit down and say 'OK, I'm going to put an album out, you're going to be on my first single. Let's try and write it'. That's not how it works," she explains.
"I usually do a record, and it'll need a rap, and he's the best. So who else would I get? If I can get the best, then I'm going to try to get the best! And he's the same when he needs a chorus, then he calls me. It's very organic.
"With Deja Vu, I finished the record and I loved it, but Jay heard it and his lips started moving. So I said 'Let's go to the studio', so we did. Upgrade U is really cocky and fun, but he [Jay] said I needed a male perspective."
Apart from music and acting, B has created a fashion line with her stylist mother, Tina. House Of Dereon launches in the US in October, which she hopes will expand to the UK in a year's time.
"I'm passionate about fashion and my clothes line," she says.
"My mother and I decided to do a clothing line because everyone kept asking where they can get the clothes I wear. I get excited when I find something that fits well and doesn't need to be altered, and makes you look sexy and feminine, so I was really adamant about the fit.
"Our jeans have special darts at the back to make sure they fit people with hips and thighs without gaping at the waist. I tried them about 20 times because I wanted them to fit. I don't want to stamp my name on a line and have a celebrity brand that I wasn't proud of."
With a steady boyfriend and stellar career at only 24, does Beyonce ever think of settling down?
"I would like to be married before I had kids, but I'm not in a rush to get married. Everything in life happens when it's supposed to happen and I'm still very young. I just want to do my records and continue to do what makes me excited and what I'm passionate about."
Beyonce's single, Deja Vu, is out now and the album, B'Day, is out on Monday, September 4. For more information on House Of Dereon, visit www.houseofdereon.com
Significant other: Linked to Jay-Z, although she keeps quiet about her love life
Career high: She's won nine Grammy Awards to date
Career low: Former Destiny's Child members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson took lawsuits against Beyonce and Kelly Rowland after the band split in 2000
Famous for: Being the most successful one out of Destiny's Child
Words of wisdom: "My whole life is about family. Everyone around me, if they are not family, become like family"