Were you surprised by the immense popularity of the "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" video?
Out of all my videos, it was the least expensive and took the least amount of time. And it ended up being the most iconic. I absolutely didn't expect that -- I don't think anyone did. But I knew exactly what I wanted to do: Keep it simple. I've done so many things in videos with different hair and wardrobe changes, different sets and lights. I just wanted to keep this one really minimal. And once we got on the set, it was like, "Wait a minute. This is something special."
I'd seen this 1969 video [featuring Gwen Verdon], this one take of amazing Bob Fosse choreography set against a white background. And I thought, "Wow, despite all the technology we have now, wouldn't it be great to just strip it all down -- without a bunch of different camera shots and cuts, without any hair and wardrobe changes -- and make it all about the performance?" We had exactly 12 hours to film that video. We did it after shooting "If I Were a Boy," so I used the same director and same crew, renting out a studio in New Jersey. From the black leotards to incorporating some of Fosse's 1969 choreography into our modern choreography, it was just a conscious effort at keeping everything simple.
Outside of music, you're committed to several charitable causes. What attracted you to these particular organizations?
I'm like everyone else. There are certain things I'm passionate about that are close to my heart. I'm so inspired by the children in Make a Wish. It gives my life a way bigger purpose when I know I can bring someone joy, especially someone in a hospital whose childhood is basically sacrificed. And their families are sacrificing too. After being in hospitals, dealing with needles, medicines and all the physical and mental pain these kids and families go through...for me to know that I can take them away from that is very important.
Ever since I was 9 years old, I've been working with my pastor to help the hungry and homeless. So on every tour, I've done something to help fight hunger. And this time we were able to provide 3.5 million meals -- that's such a huge accomplishment. I'm grateful to work with General Mills and Hamburger Helper and be a part of something on such a large scale as Feeding America. I'm just so surprised at how many young people came to the concerts with canned goods and were concerned about this cause. They helped make this happen. It wasn't me.
Our family charity, the Survivor Foundation, is still growing. Then there's GEMS [Girls Educational and Mentoring Services]. I saw something about it on television and wanted to help. It's real important for people not to judge. That's why I sit down and talk to these ladies about what inspires me to be strong, and they inspire me as well. To talk and cry with these ladies, to hug these ladies and invite them to the shows to hear songs about empowering women to set their own standards in relationships and build self-esteem. Those are things I can share with these young women. These are all things that have something to do with my purpose in life.