Tina Knowles-Lawson Talks Black Women Leaders in the Arts

In Summary

Knowles-Lawson opened up about her professional journey and how mentorship was important to her at the beginning stages of her career.

BNC caught up with Tina Knowles-Lawson during a fireside chat with ESSENCE Editor-at-Large Mikki Taylor at Newark Symphony Hall where she expressed the importance of Black women having a leadership role in arts organizations. 

Knowles-Lawson, 67, opened up about her professional journey and how mentorship was important to her at the beginning stages of her career. She spoke about the first mentor she ever had at the age of 14. “My brother’s girlfriend came into my life [at 14] and changed the whole trajectory of my life,” Knowles-Lawson said. 

She told BNC seeing Black excellence through her brother’s girlfriend made her achieve more in her life. “Without her intervening in my life I probably would have stayed in my little town, got married, had kids and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m so happy she exposed me to other things.” 

Being the mother of Beyoncé, one of the biggest icons in music, comes with some challenges, she said. Knowles-Lawson shared that at first, she wasn’t valued for her skill set and others would assume she would get gigs because of who her daughter is and not for what she brought to the table.  

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“People really did not value me because I was a mother and they thought I had the job because I was a mother and I wasn’t as qualified,” she said. As she reflected, she stated that “it’s been nothing but a blessing” to have gotten where she’s is currently.  

When asked about her Grammy Award-winning granddaughter Blue Ivy Carter becoming the youngest winner in MTV VMA history, she expressed how “special” she is. She mentioned how Blue is “lightyears ahead of her age” when it comes to her creativity, filmmaking and writing. It’s safe to say Blue Ivy will be ready to pick up for her mom sooner than we think.  

Knowles-Lawson also encouraged young Black and Brown kids to follow their passion and not the money when choosing a career.  

She thinks people should not always think about the money when looking for new opportunities, saying that “the education you get from volunteering and working on your craft is something that will pay off for you.” 

She ended with offering some advice to Black women and girls trying to pursue their dreams. “When you’re starting out make sure it is your passion because when it is your passion it isn’t hard work.”  

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