Tina Knowles-Lawson talks fashion and family with Jalen Rose
She can thank lost baggage for her current design career. My “Renaissance Man” guest is Queen Tina Knowles-Lawson, also known as beyonce’s mother and Solange Knowles — though she’ll also claim Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland as part of her offspring. Miss Tina regularly styled the girl group, but on a trip to Jamaica for an MTV event, the costumes and luggage were nowhere to be found.
“I had to go to the side of the road and I took all these camouflage clothes and cut them up and made costumes for the girls,” she told me. “They were with Wyclef Jean and he was like, ‘Wow, who did your hair today?’ And Beyoncé said, “My mom did.” He was like, ‘You should style them all the time.’ And that’s how I started styling them.
She said her new role was totally unexpected. Not that she can’t manage with a roll of fabric and a sewing machine. Growing up in Galveston, Texas, Mama Tina came from a large family with few means. Her mother and grandmother were seamstresses. His nephew was a designer.
“So I was surrounded by fashion and people who couldn’t take anything and do something with it. I grew up with the strength of my mother. [She] furniture reupholstered to make curtains, [and made] clothes for people. So it was just in my blood. And I always wanted to do something in fashion… I always did everyone’s hair, I did them makeup. I made all my friends’ prom dresses.
And get this: she was in a girl group, called the Veltones.
“We were really good, but we were more known for our costumes than our entertainment,” she said. “And my mom and I did all the costumes.”
In addition to sewing, her mother taught her to be charitable and selfless. Recently Miss Tina and I were in a HIV awareness campaign titled Me in You, You in Me.
“My mom was so humanitarian… Everything we had, she shared with everyone,” Mama Tina said of her own mother. “And she did what she could do with next to nothing. It was a great lesson. She always taught us that if you do things for someone, you do it from the heart, you don’t do it for recognition, because then you already have your blessing.
Mama Tina has carved out a big name for herself in fashion and design, and even dipped her toe into the acting world with Lifetime’s “Wrath: A Seven Deadly Sins Story,” which premiered in April. Funny enough, she played the mother of Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams.
Through it all, however, she said she my favorite job is being a grandmother. But she raised two superstars, one of whom is arguably the greatest artist of all time. Did she see their unique talents as children? Tina said no. They just loved to play.
“I mean, nobody wanted to come to our house because [Beyoncé and Solange] sold them tickets and had them watch shows. [The girls] always loved [performing]. They didn’t want to play outside. That’s all they wanted to do.
Mama Tina put them both in dance class — surprisingly, as she hoped it would help Beyoncé come out of her shell. “She was super shy and I thought she would make friends. Her dance teacher was actually the stage mom. She was like, ‘This little girl is so talented.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, everyone thinks their kid’s got talent.’ It took me a while to really be a believer, you know, because…I never wanted to be that parent.She added that her ex-husband, Mathew Knowles, asked their daughters to study the greats like Motown icons Diana Ross and the Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas and Smokey Robinson, the Knowles sisters actively tried to emulate them.
“They had such great role models. They looked [footage] and they knew these artists and the Motown era. The girls were very, very dedicated to their craft.
Tina has accomplished so much on her own, but she’s also become a revered mother in pop culture. We all feel a bit of her motherly magic. In December, she even launched a Facebook show, “Talk with Mama Tina.” And we know mothers aren’t supposed to have favorites, but I wanted to know her favorite songs from her each of her daughters.
For Solange, Mama Tina did not hesitate to say “Cranes in the Sky”.
As for Beyoncé?
“I’ve had so many with her, but probably ‘Survivor.’ It’s Destiny’s Child. This song means so much to me because I’ve seen it give people the courage to do things.
Detroit native Jalen Rose is a member of the University of Michigan iconoclast Fab Five, which rocked college basketball in the early ’90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA, before becoming a media personality. Rose is currently an analyst for “NBA Countdown” and “Get Up,” and co-host of “Jalen & Jacoby.” He produced “The Fab Five” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, is the bestselling author of “Got To Give the People What They Want,” a fashion designer, and co-founded the Jalen Rose Leadership. Academy, a public charter school in his hometown.