Tina Knowles has a story of tragedy and triumph perfect for the self-help aisle of the bookstore.
Other than knowing she owned a hair salon and created Destiny’s Child’s costumes, the public knew very little about the woman who birthed Beyoncé and Solange Knowles. That all changed with an inspirational video that hit the ‘net of Tina telling her story.
Last week, the 60-year-old designer was the keynote speaker for the Women & Money Leadership Luncheon in Houston, Texas. In her speech, she talked about her failed marriage to Mathew Knowles, her fighter spirit, self-esteem and finding love again.
The 28 minute-speech is worth the watch. Read a few highlights below.
On getting married, her dad getting sick, losing her mom and getting pregnant within a year...
"I met my husband and got married. I was so excited about my dad walking me down the aisle and he had a heart attack the day before we got married. He had a minor heart attack. So we all went to the hospital after the wedding and brought the wedding party and he was rushing us out and we left.
And the next day we’re supposed to go to the honeymoon, but we missed the flight. So I called back and they said, 'Oh your dad’s in intensive care, he’s had a massive heart attack.' My dad was really bad and I decided to stay so my ex-husband could go back to the house because his parents were in town. And he calls me crying and he says his grandfather has died.
By Wednesday, my daddy is stable enough so I can go to [my husband's grandfather's] funeral. So I go to the funeral on Thursday and when I got back on Friday my mom was in intensive care. It was really a tough time. I have to say my ex-husband said, 'You know, you don’t have to work. You can go and take care of your parents,' which I treasure to this day because within six months my mom had passed away. Then I was pregnant."
On never wanting to depend on anyone financially...
"For four years I didn’t work, I just kept my daughter. And then things just got really rocky and my marriage got very tumultuous and I was having all these problems and I was like, 'What have I done? I’ve been out of the job market for four years.’ Self-esteem low, so what do I do now? During that time, I had started beauty school and I had maybe three months to last with that.
But after I got pregnant, my marriage just got really bad and I knew I had to do something. So I got very focused on going to school. And by the time I had the baby, I already had a clientele. I built a salon at my house and I’d do hair there.
Eight weeks after I had my baby, I took her to her paternal grandmother and I said, ‘Listen, you gotta keep her ’cause I gotta open up a business,’ because I would never be in this position again. I would never be totally dependent on someone. I would never give up on myself."
On filing for divorce after 33 years of marriage:
"I was very sad. When you look at someone else, you look at them and say, ‘They’re attractive. They have a lot of good stuff going on for them. They have no right to have low self-esteem. They have no right to feel sorry for themselves.’ Well, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you are, what you’ve done, what you have. You’re a person; you’re a human being. And when something strikes you like that, it takes the breath out of you. And my fight came back! After a while, I let myself feel sorry for myself for a minute and then I said, ‘You know, I’m so blessed to have all the opportunities that I have. And I don’t have the right to feel sorry.’ I started telling myself this."
On taking care of herself post-divorce...
"I started reading my art books. I love art but I had never had the time. I started traveling. I would travel with my daughter [Beyoncé], but not to work! I would say, ‘No I’m not working.’ I had my girlfriend who would make me laugh. I sent for her and she would come on the road and we would go to museums, we would go to lunch and we would just laugh. And I just really had forgotten how to live. I had just lost all of myself so I realize now that part of the low self-esteem was, yes, being 58 and having to start over again, and the other part is that I just lost myself. That I was so busy working and going and taking care of everybody else that I just forgot about Tina.
So I would tell my kids, ‘You know what, you can call me and I’ll be there if it’s something important, but otherwise, I’m taking care of Tina. This is my selfish moment.’ And before I knew it, I started liking me again! I started being important, not everybody else."
On dating her current boyfriend, actor Richard Lawson...
"I've been knowing him for 33 years. His sister was one of my best friends, and she died of breast cancer 20 years ago...So Monica called him up and we went by his acting school and he took us out to eat afterwards and my friend says, 'Okay, Richard. Do you know any men?' And he’s like, 'Well, what she looking for?' So I say, ‘You know, I want somebody with integrity, that believes in God, that likes to dance, likes to have fun and appreciates art. And he’s like, 'Oh! What about me?' And we both say, ‘Hell no!’ So he says, 'Okay, well, I’ll see who I can think of.'
So the next night he took us out dancing and we just had a good time. The next night he came to the concert and he said, ‘Can we just get away from Monica?’ Cause Monica just takes over the conversation. So we went to lunch and he said, “I want to support you during this time” because Matthew — he’s friends with Matthew, too — just got married yesterday. So he came to Houston, I went to L.A. afterwards and it’s been now a year and five months and I’m in a committed relationship with that handsome man! And I’m in my happiest I been in a long, long time."
Beyoncé and Solange definitely get it from their mama! Watch the full speech below.
(Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Gabrielle's Angel Foundation)