It’s been 18 years since Ciara stepped onto the music scene. The entertainer quickly gained worldwide recognition after her first single “Goodies” went triple platinum, and has been gifting the world with her music ever since. Although the global icon is R&B royalty, she feels like she’s just getting started.
Draped in creations from designers like Dolce & Gabbana, Sacai, Laquan Smith and more for EBONY’s September cover shoot, Ciara radiates confidence and power. On a Zoom call, she logs on from an unlit room in the Denver home she shares with her husband NFL quarterback Russell Wilson, and her three children—Future, Sienna, and Win. Her warm smile, fresh face and soft waves complement her calm, optimistic aura. It’s evident that the 36-year-old mother, wife and entrepreneur is comfortable in her own skin.
Seven full albums, 23 million single sales and over 36 million-and-counting Instagram followers later, the megastar still has momentum. In this new chapter of her life, she’s in control. Her upcoming eighth album is complete. And her ascension into an innovative fashion, beauty, and business mogul is in full force. She’s spearheading several successful ventures, including her new skincare brand On a Mission (OAM for short), her very own clothing line LITA by Ciara and The House of LR&C, a sustainable fashion house she co-founded with her husband in 2020.
Below, Ciara gets candid about her family, faith and finding beauty in the struggles. She shares the power of manifesting your dreams and speaking things into existence, a practice that has helped her master the art of longevity and build a lasting legacy.
EBONY: Was there a defining moment in your childhood that inspired you to go after your dreams of becoming an entertainer?
Ciara: I remember watching Michael Jackson on the television performing “Rock With You.” He had that smile and was grooving in his shiny pants. I remember being in my living room in Decatur, Georgia, and I was like, “Oh I’m goin’ to do that.” It was definitive. That moment made me feel like I knew in my soul I had something special. I was 13 years old at the time and really went after it. I created a goal sheet, and my first goal was to get discovered. And then once I got discovered, my next goal was to sell three to four million albums. And then my third goal was to have longevity. Talk about manifestation—little me was writing this down. I signed my first major recording contract when I was 16 years old. And I put out my first album fresh out of high school. So now, I sit here years later looking back on my goal sheet I created as a little girl. My first album, I wanted to sell three to four million albums—I not only sold three to four million, I sold five million. And then my third goal was to have longevity. It’s been 18 years since my first album, and I still feel like I’m just getting started.
“With the House of LR&C we had a passion to impact, so it had to be something greater.”
Being in the spotlight comes with so much scrutiny, what was it like growing into your confidence under the public eye with your image always up for perception?
In the beginning, it was challenging living my life in front of the world. It made me way more guarded. Even when you have your ugliest moments that you wish no one else could see, you don’t have a choice. My philosophy is to run towards my fears and the things that make me uncomfortable, so I was running for a while. As a young girl coming up in this industry, I was carrying so much on my shoulders. Eventually, I was like, “You know what, this is who I am and either you like it or you don’t.” I can’t live my life based off what someone thinks, or someone else’s comments. Then suddenly, I’ll start thinking that in my mind because words are powerful.
I’m also spiritual, so I am who God says I am; no one can take that away from me. When you reach higher heights, the hate grows greater—it doesn’t stop. But baby I’m hater-proof. And even when people say negative things, I think to myself, “God bless you. I understand you could be going through something, but I’m going to love.” And guess what? I’m good. My family loves me. I’m good. God loves me. I’m good. There’s nothing you can say that’s going to alter that or make me feel any different.
“My philosophy is to run towards my fears and the things that make me uncomfortable.””
Ciara wears an A.Potts coat, Roberto Cavalli gown, and Versace Necklace.
The world is so enamored with your love story. It’s no secret that you and your husband Russell are such a beautiful example of #BlackLove. What’s your advice on finding a partner that feels like your equal?
Don’t ignore the signs. Sometimes we want to make things happen with people who only check off a few boxes. Conversation is everything. The first day my love and I talked, I had never had a conversation like that with any other person. You have to really listen to what people are saying. How do they talk about people? How do they love themselves? How do they love others? Are they spiritual? Do how they think align with your thoughts? All these things tell us a lot. When you have that common-ground connection, it’s more than half the battle. It’s less about words—because people will sell you a dream—and more about what they do. You have to see who someone truly is. And time does tell a lot, you know? But at the same time, the truth could be right in front of us and we’re just not opening our eyes. Don’t be afraid to be disappointed. I know I’m not perfect, but things work perfectly right for us. I believe there’s a person that’s perfect for everyone.
How has motherhood inspired this next chapter of your life?
Being a mom is my most favorite job of all jobs. It’s work, day in and day out, and it is not easy. But it’s so worth it. My family has given me my why. I look at my husband, and I’m inspired every day. I’m even more driven because of my children; they make me feel like I’m doing something more in life. Life isn’t only about success. I feel very blessed that I’ve been able to win awards and make hit records. But you know, it only lasts but so long. That’s just the truth of it. Don’t get me wrong, legacy is forever, but the bond and love that I have with my family is even greater than anything I can be given.
When you were a new mom raising your son Future, you spoke so openly about raising him as a single mom. Looking back on that time in your life, what advice would you give to your younger self?
The journey I went on in front of the world was not the most comfortable. I felt so vulnerable in that moment. What I learned is to embrace the vulnerable times head on. Looking back on [that] moment in my life I would tell myself, “You’re doing good girl. Everything’s going to be alright. There’s good in what you’re going through, even in our toughest times.” There’s a scripture I love in the Bible, James 1:2-4, ‘Consider it pure joy when you face trials and tribulations because the testing of your faith produces perseverance.’ It’s the reason I named my label Beauty Marks Entertainment. My idea was that all of the scars you get from the obstacles you face in life are your beauty marks. All those moments that didn’t feel so beautiful and felt like a flaw are actually beautiful.
“When you reach higher heights, the hate grows greater—it doesn’t stop. But baby I’m hater-proof.”
Your career is continuously evolving with all of your exciting entrepreneurial pursuits. Your love of fashion has expanded into you and your husband’s fashion company, the House of LR&C, which is focused on pushing philanthropy forward with purpose-driven brands and democratizing the industry. Why was it important for you to keep sustainability and giving back as core tenets of the fashion house?
It’s been such an amazing journey building the house of LR&C, especially doing it with my husband Russ. The House of LR&C stands for Love, Respect, & Care. And it’s also our signature, “Love, Russell and Ciara”—so there’s a double entendre to it. Russell started Good Man Brand before the House existed back in 2014, which I can proudly say is the number one men’s brand in Nordstrom. It was only right that there was something for the ladies, so I created my line LITA, which stands for “Love Is the Answer.” As women, we have a special gift to love. And we make a lot of things happen with how we love. The mission is to be a woman’s best friend in fashion.
[Co-founder] Christine Day, who we call a retail legend, is a big part of the reason LR&C exists. We decided that this is not going to be a traditional fashion house. We had a passion to impact, so it had to be something greater. Our mission is to have a big impact on people and a low impact on the planet. We are all about practicing sustainability at the highest level, which sometimes costs a bit more when you’re doing it right. I really want to make sure the price markings are as best as possible for my fans and for every customer. It’s the standard that we’ve set and what we’re committed to. All of our products are made from recyclable and reusable material, which was really important to us. We are also a mission-first company; so every time a person purchases anything from the House of LR&C, 3% of what we make goes back to Russell’s and my Why Not You Foundation [a non-profit organization providing equal education opportunities to youth fighting poverty]. Every little detail can make the greatest difference in the world.
Ciara wears an Amiri Coat and her own jewelry.
“My family has given me my why. I look at my husband, and I’m inspired every day.”
What’s it like teaming up with your husband on these fashion brands?
It’s so much fun because we’re doing it together. The great thing is that when he and I do anything together, we get to have a little bit of work and play. Luckily, we’re equally yoked and our visions are aligned. We have a big vision to create successful businesses. The ultimate goal is to build billion-dollar businesses. For us, this is about creating legacy brands. We have dreams to impact in every way possible. And there’s also a family component to it—we want to afford our kids the opportunity to possibly continue our legacy and work for the House of LR&C one day.
What motivated you to delve into the world of skincare with the launch of your new line, OAM?
It all started with my own journey and realizing that I needed to take better care of my skin. Being a mom and an entrepreneur, you’re going through the motions. But at the same time, we’ve got to love on ourselves in the process. So this is a part of my journey of loving on myself. OAM is the acronym [for] “On A Mission.” I always say that I’m a woman of ambition on a mission. I wanted to create a collection that was made with amazing products to help give your face a glow up and level up your skincare routine. I call it the simple formula. Sometimes we walk into places in the skincare world and it’s overwhelming. I wanted to create a “1, 2 Step” process—well, it’s a little bit more than two steps—but it’s spelled out for you.
All of the products are clinically tested and dermatologically based, which was important to me. It will transform the skin, which is why vitamin C is an important ingredient throughout the line. There’s real science behind the formulas and the performance of the products really does speak for itself. There’s a lot of thought and intentionality that was put into the products, down to the textures. I wanted the cleanser to foam up nicely in your hands, the serum to drip a certain way, and the face cream to feel just right—not too thick or oily. I’m eco-conscious with all of the brands that I’ve been building, so the packaging is all recyclable. This is a long dream come true of mine. I’m excited to share it with the world.
You’re a beauty icon and always giving us full glam, on and off the stage. But when do you personally feel the most beautiful?
Truthfully, when I’m receiving love from my husband and my kids. There’s something about it that makes me feel so empowered. I feel like my best self when I’m in that space. Like, when [my daughter] Sienna looks at me, she’s like, “Mommy, I love you so much.” And I can see the awe in her eyes. It makes me feel like I’m doing something right. When it comes to makeup, I wear very little to nothing. But I had to learn to get to that place. When I was younger, I thought that I needed a full face of makeup to be beautiful. I had to make a conscious effort to feel confident in my skin when I’m more stripped down and fresh-faced. Now makeup just feels like a bonus. There’s also that internal part of it all, working on myself, my thoughts, and the things that I say to myself—all of those things matter.
With several successful businesses under your belt, what challenges have you faced navigating the world of fame and fortune?
When I was young, I wore my heart on my sleeve. What I realized is when it comes to business, not everyone’s going to be as sincere as you are. That was a challenge for me along the way because in some rooms not everyone deserves to know everything or for you to give them every part of you—you must be selective. It took me a second to understand that, especially as a businesswoman. I learned to take my emotions out of it because business isn’t personal. The moment I did it was game changing.
We know that you’ve been working on your highly anticipated album and the world is so ready for it. What’s the creative process been like for you?
I’m so excited! It’s such a joy and a gift to share my music with the world; I never take it for granted. I love being able to create a project and show everyone what I’ve been vibing to. For my “Jump” record it’s been so great working with [music video director] Dave Meyers to execute my vision. I think one of the greatest things that came out of the pandemic is realizing we’re all much stronger than we thought we were, and we’re all trying to find ways to thrive. The world can never have enough joy, the world can ever never have enough love and the world can definitely never have enough dance.
There’s so much energy in this album because I want to make the world dance—that’s always been my thing. It’s the tempo and beat I’ve been moving to in my music, and the key sentiments I’ve poured into this album. There is an R&B core in these records. To be honest, this album feels nostalgic. It takes me back to my first album in a way that no project I’ve done to this point has before.
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & SVP, PROGRAMMING MARIELLE BOBO
CREATIVE DIRECTOR RASHIDA MORGAN BROWN
PHOTO DIRECTOR/PHOTOGRAPHER KEITH MAJOR
MARKET EDITOR VICTOR VAUGHNS
ASSOC. CREATIVE DIRECTOR/HEAD OF VIDEO STEVEN CORNELIO
EBONY STUDIOS & EXEC. PRODUCER CHRIS KARNAK
VIDEO DP ARTHUR WOO
VIDEO AC AMBROSE ENG
VIDEO AUDIO ERIC ROMARY
VIDEO ASSISTANT LUIS ROMERO
VIDEO EDITOR MEGA MEDIA
STYLIST ALEXANDER-JULIAN GIBBSON
STYLIST ASSISTANT CHLOE LUCAN
TAILOR LINDSAY WRIGHT
HAIR STYLIST CESAR RAMIREZ
MAKEUP ARTIST YOLONDA FREDERICK-THOMPSON
MANICURIST ERI ISHIZU
PHOTO ASSISTANTS CESAR REBOLLAR, SAONI FORTUNA
DIGITAL TECH JENNIFER CZYBORRA
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER TRACEY WOODS
PRODUCTION COORD/ASSISTANT WENDY CORREA
RETOUCHER DIGITAL 805 RETOUCHING