15 Things We Learned from ‘Beyoncé: Life Is But a Dream’

Last night, Beyoncé offered more insight into her career and personal life in the “revealing,” self-produced HBO documentary Life Is But a Dream. It was the Stefon of documentaries: there was crying, singing, dancing, and weird Terrence Malick-style shots of trees. Bey opened up about her miscarriage, discussed her intense love and admiration for husband Jay-Z, gave us a peek at daughter Blue Ivy Carter, and talked to her computer while we wondered how she wakes up in the middle of the night with such perfect hair. While the arguments that Life Is But a Dream was a little too polished dart back and forth, we’re sharing 15 things we learned about Bey after the break. Leave us your review of the film in the comments section.


    1. The personal and professional rift with her father troubled her deeplyLife is But a Dream opens with home video footage of the Knowles sisters as children captured by their father, Mathew Knowles. We learn that the stress and strain of their professional relationship took its toll on their personal connection. Beyoncé indicated that she never won her father’s approval — something he did to continuously push her to make her stronger. Eventually she cut professional ties with him to maintain boundaries, but she “sacrificed” her relationship with him in the process. “I had to let go,” she said.
    2. Her biggest career goal is independence: “I don’t want to have to sing about the same thing for ten more years. You can’t grow. I want to be able to sing about how much I hate myself that day if that’s how I feel. I felt like it was time to set up my future, so I set a goal. My goal was independence.”
    3. She keeps a video diary to figure out lifeLife is But a Dream has plenty of so-called intimate moments that feel like a carefully curated facade. Whether you buy what Beyoncé’s selling or not, it’s clear she loves the camera — or more specifically, her MacBook. Keeping a video diary is her way of figuring out her life’s biggest issues.
    4. She never knows what an album will sound like when she’s recording. Beyoncé told us she wants to be honest, passionate, and vulnerable with her work. “People don’t make albums anymore. They just try to sell quick singles, then they burn out… People don’t listen to a body of work anymore,” she said. Throughout the documentary, Beyoncé makes it clear that she’s no mere celebrity: “I’m truly an artist in the studio.”
    5. She hates the Internet sometimes, and she’s sensitive about rumors. “People are brainwashed… When Nina Simone put out music, you loved her voice. That’s what she wanted you to love,” Beyoncé reminds us, while lamenting the ridiculous things people write about her. “You didn’t get brainwashed by her day-to-day life. That’s not your business. It shouldn’t influence the way you listen to the voice and the art, but it does.” Remember the rumor that she used a surrogate mother to carry her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter? Bey called it “stupid.” She explained: “To think that I would be that vain. I respect mothers and women so much. To be able to experience bringing a child into this world, if you’re lucky and fortunate enough to experience that, I would never ever take that for granted.”
    6. Her adorable nephew Daniel “Julez” Smith, Jr. speaks fluent French and meditates.
    7. She wrote her “saddest song” after she had a miscarriage. A few years before Blue Ivy was born, Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z suffered a miscarriage: “I was pregnant for the first time, and I heard the heartbeat, which was the most beautiful music I ever heard in my life.” She described picking out names for the baby and envisioning what her child looked like. She added, “I flew back to New York to get my check up — and no heartbeat. Literally the week before I went to the doctor, everything was fine, but there was no heartbeat.” To heal from the trauma, she turned to her music. “I went into the studio and wrote the saddest song I’ve ever written in my life… It was the best form of therapy because it was the saddest thing I’ve ever been through.” You can read the lyrics over here.
    8. She struggles with how much to reveal about her personal life: “I always battle with how much I reveal about myself. How do I keep my humility and spirit? How do I continue to be generous to my fans and my craft? How do I stay current, but how do I stay soulful?”
    9. Being pregnant again scared and excited her. After the miscarriage, Beyoncé described her anxiety about performing while pregnant. Her doctor reassured her that it was safe to keep doing what she was doing. Once the fear subsided, she said pregnancy felt like falling in love: “You are so open and overjoyed. no words can express having a baby growing inside of you. You want to scream it out and tell everyone… ” Her first concert while pregnant with Blue Ivy was at the Billboard Music Awards, which she said felt like “putting her stamp on her independence.” She described it was a “passionate performance.”
    10. She used to sing for money in her mom’s hair salon when she wasn’t sweeping up the hair.
    11. She considers herself a feminist. Most fans know about Bey’s passion for women’s issues, and the documentary briefly expounds on her thoughts about inequality. “At the end of the day, it’s not about equal rights, it’s about how we think. We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead,” she explained. Bonding with other women is important to her, too. “I love my husband, but there’s nothing like a conversation with a woman who understands you,” she said. “I grow so much from those conversations. I need my sisters.”
    12. She stopped being polite and started getting real. Bey learned from her father that being polite in business doesn’t fly. “You can be fair, but being polite is not being fair to myself,” she stated.
    13. She makes amazing speeches and likes to serenade Jay-Z. Footage from a December 4, 2006 birthday celebration for hubby Jay-Z definitely made us a little teary-eyed. She lovingly praised him for teaching her how to be an artist, to fight for what she believes in, and for showing her it’s important to have standards. “He doesn’t compromise his art,” she expressed. “You’ve given me so much in life and this is not enough. It’s not enough I can give you. I just want you to be happy,” she told him. “And ever year, I’m even more in love with you, and I want to spend every day of my life with you. Happy birthday, and I thank God for you every day.” A later scene of the couple singing Coldplay’s “Yellow” while out to dinner was equally touching.
    14. She believes everything happens for a reason and prays often. “I am a result of my grandmother’s prayers,” she tells us with tears streaming down her face. “My mother prays for me all the time. I pray for my daughter all the time.”
    15. Blue Ivy is a cutie and looks like a tiny Jay-Z.