Keep­ing Up with Ciara

With her sev­enth al­bum about to drop, the siz­zling singer/dancer seems to have it all but wants more, be­cause ‘no dream is too big’. Here, she talks to COSMO about faith, fit­ness and her hus­band’s ‘good­ies’

Cosmopolitan (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

For some­one who rock­eted into the pub­lic eye at 19, cy­cled (some­what con­tentiously) through a num­ber of record la­bels and went through a pub­lic, scan­dalous break-up with the rap­per Fu­ture, Ciara is re­mark­ably joy­ful. Level-headed. Op­ti­mistic. Pro­ject­ing some se­ri­ous serene­god­dess vibes. But don’t get it twisted. Although she’s earned it, she’s not con­tent to sit back and re­lax.4

Ev­ery day’s a blur,’ she says. ‘There’s so much hap­pen­ing when you have two kids and work.’ Right now, the 33-year-old spends most of her days in Bellevue, Wash­ing­ton, where she and her hot­tie Su­per Bowl champ hus­band, Rus­sell Wil­son, live with her four-year-old son and their 18-month-old daugh­ter. She splits time be­tween fam­ily days at the Seat­tle Sea­hawks’ train­ing camp and bask­ing in the suc­cess of Level Up and Freak Me, two sin­gles off her new al­bum (the videos launched a pair of vi­ral dance chal­lenges on In­sta­gram). Ciara is no stranger to South Africa, hav­ing shot her Freak Me mu­sic video in Soweto, dressed and styled by Rich Mnisi and Trevor Stu­ur­man. She also vis­ited La­gos, Nige­ria, and did what she does best – dance with lo­cals and hit vi­ral sta­tus. No-one who saw it can for­get the cute #InMyFeel­ings chal­lenge video shot in Cape Town while she was on her sec­ond hon­ey­moon. Aww! She’s also been deep in tour-prep mode.

And then there was her re­cent post-baby fit­ness rou­tine: up to three work­outs a day. ‘It was kind of like, wake up in the morn­ing, breast-feed, eat a small meal, go train, come back, breast-feed, eat an­other meal, go train, come back, have an­other meal, and then do a third train­ing ses­sion at night,’ she says, ad­ding care­fully: ‘It was a good chal­lenge, one I set for my­self, not for any­one else. Tak­ing care of my­self makes me feel re­ally good. And I want to keep it sexy too, you know.’

So yeah, Ciara is not sit­ting back. Truth be told, she has been op­er­at­ing at turbo speed since girl­hood. It started when she was 14 and still go­ing by her full name, Ciara Princess Har­ris. While play­ing hooky one day in Decatur, Geor­gia, she hap­pened to catch Des­tiny’s Child per­form­ing on a morn­ing news show. ‘I don’t re­mem­ber why I didn’t go to school, but I re­mem­ber that day,’ she says.

‘They were killing it, and I said, This is what I want to do. I’m go­ing to be an en­ter­tainer.’

And while mil­lions of teens ad­mired young Bey­oncé as she crooned about ‘bug a boos’ and clubs full of ballers, Ciara did more than gaze long­ingly at the stage. She sat down and made a list – old school-style, pen to pa­per

– of things she planned to do to score su­per­star sta­tus.

‘The first goal Iwrote down was to get dis­cov­ered,’ she re­mem­bers. ‘The sec­ond was to sell three- to four-mil­lion records. Third, have longevity.’

Call her an over­achiever … at this point, she’s sold 23-mil­lion al­bums and has been in the mu­sic busi­ness for more than a decade.

It wasn’t some magic ge­nie who granted her fame and suc­cess; it was sheer willpower and tal­ent. And per­haps just a lit­tle help from above, she says. ‘Faith has been the thing that’s car­ried me through. I’ve had mo­ments when I’ve been in the shower cry­ing. In the tough­est mo­ments, I would say to God, “Thank you in ad­vance.” I’d just say it be­cause I knew that He’d get me out of that mo­ment.’

That said, Ciara her­self has con­tin­u­ally per­formed a magic trick of sorts: she’s made celibacy sound … sexy. Take Good­ies, her break­out 2004 sin­gle, which mu­sic in­sid­ers have called the fem­i­nine an­swer to Usher’s Yeah! Some may as­sume the song is about the art of play­ing hard to get, but it’s not. Lis­ten closely and you’ll no­tice all the sub­tle and un­ex­pected nods to chastity … al­most as if she were sav­ing her­self for mar­riage.

Ten years later, Ciara wound up do­ing ex­actly that. After her re­la­tion­ship with Fu­ture came to an end in 2014, she sat down to write an­other list. This time, the newly sin­gle mom jot­ted down ex­actly what she was look­ing for in apart­ner. In less than a year, thanks to what some would call serendip­ity and Ciara would call fate, she hooked up with Rus­sell Wil­son.

It wasn’t some magic ge­nie who granted her fame and suc­cess – it was sheer willpower and tal­ent

She fell hard and quickly but had also learned from her past. With this boo, Ciara didn’t hide be­hind wink-wink lyrics – she and Rus­sell were fa­mously vo­cal about prac­tis­ing ab­sti­nence un­til they tied the knot, in an ef­fort to ‘do it Je­sus’s way’, as he once said. (They may have even sparked a mu­sic-biz trend. Former Des­tiny’s Child mem­ber Michelle Wil­liams re­cently made the same pledge with her fi­ancé.) Ciara and Rus­sell seem­ingly pulled it off. The morn­ing after their 2016 wed­ding, the two dished about how much fun they had tak­ing the good­ies out of the jar in a se­ries of Snapchat videos.

‘It def­i­nitely was a huge chal­lenge, be­cause I looked at my hus­band and went, “Ooh”,’ she says of hold­ing off on sex. ‘But the cool thing about us is that we’re equally yoked.’ (For the unini­ti­ated, that’s bi­b­li­cal speak for be­ing fully con­nected on a spir­i­tual level. See? Ciara can even add sex ap­peal to the lit­eral Bible.) ‘It makes a dif­fer­ence when you share the same views,’ she says. ‘We were able to be in lock-step from day one.’

Not ev­ery­one sees the beauty in her ro­man­tic choices. The cou­ple’s de­ci­sion to stay celi­bate drew shade from the In­ter­net’s sup­ply of arm­chair ex­perts. Ear­lier this year, the rap­per Slim Thug asked the (un­so­licited) ques­tion of whether ‘a woman who used to talk to Fu­ture [could] re­ally want a Rus­sell Wil­son’ and went on to call Rus­sell ‘a corny dude’ and ‘a square’.

Ciara sim­ply doesn’t have time to get into it with trolls. ‘When some­one comes for you and you didn’t send for them, you keep your eye on the prize,’ she says. ‘I know what my mis­sion is. I know what I’m hop­ing for and work­ing hard for ev­ery day. That’s my fo­cus. I’m not go­ing to let peo­ple steal my joy. I move on. New day, new op­por­tu­nity, new en­ergy, let’s go.’

And go she has: Ciara has qui­etly be­come one of the mu­sic in­dus­try’s most un­usual suc­cess sto­ries. Think of her as an up­dated Janet Jack­son. She’s so sure of her­self and her strengths that rein­vent­ing her brand is nei­ther nec­es­sary nor an op­tion. Sure, some of her fa­mous peers have more Twit­ter fol­low­ers, more Gram­mys. But it’s also pos­si­ble that Ciara is after some­thing even big­ger. ‘I never thought, I can’t be me be­cause of the colour of my skin, I can’t be me be­cause of my gen­der,’ she says. ‘No dream is too big.’

Which is why, she says, it’s time for an­other goal list. ‘I want to be a bil­lion­aire. The more re­sources, the more you can do. But my great­est ac­com­plish­ment 10 years from now would be to have a suc­cess­ful life as it per­tains to my mar­riage and be­ing a mom. It’s cool to want to do these cre­ative things, but it’s no good to gain the world if you lose your soul.’ ■

by pho­tog­ra­phy FaSh­IoN Marielle WakiM Vic­tor de­Marche­lier

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