For someone who rocketed into the public eye at age 19, cycled (somewhat contentiously) through a number of record labels, and went through a very public, scandalous breakup with the rapper Future, Ciara is remarkably joyful. Levelheaded. Optimistic. Projecting some serious serene goddess vibes. But don’t get it twisted. Although she’s earned it, she’s not content to sit back and relax.
“Every day’s a blur,” she says. “There’s so much happening when you have two kids and work.” Right now, the 32-year-old spends most of her days in Bellevue, Washington, where she and her hottie Super Bowl–champ husband, Russell Wilson, live with her 4-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 (their videos launched a pair of viral dance challenges on Instagram). 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, breastfeed, eat a small meal, go train, come back in, breast- feed, eat another meal, go train, then come back, have another meal, and then 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 at all—and truth be told, this is a woman who 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 just went, This is what I want to do. I’m gonna 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 how she planned to score superstar status. “The first goal I wrote down was to get discovered,” she remembers. “The second was to sell 3 to 4 million records. Third, have longevity.” Call her an overachiever— at this point, she’s sold 23 million albums and 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 to myself. In the toughest moments, I would say to God, Thank you in advance. I would just declare it because I know He’s going to get me out of this moment.”