Alicia Keys opens up about her 'self-worth issues' on 'Red Table Talk': 'I feel I'm not deserving of greatness'

Alicia Keys appears on Facebook Watch's "Red Table Talk" with hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Jones. (Photo: Michael Becker)
Alicia Keys appears on Facebook Watch's "Red Table Talk" with hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Jones. (Photo: Michael Becker)

On Monday's edition of “Red Table Talk,” the signature table was traded in for a red piano to host Alicia Keys, who spoke candidly to Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, and Willow Smith about the biggest misconceptions people have of her ⁠— including that she is always strong ⁠⁠— and of her own issues surrounding self-worth.

The 15-time Grammy Award-winning artist revealed that a number of her popular songs, such as "Girl on Fire" and "Superwoman," which, during the filming of the 2008 music video, is where Keys and Pinkett Smith initially met, were written during times that she felt the weakest.

"It's so interesting that I've become known for songs that are empowering for women," Keys, 38, told the hosts of Red Table Talk. "I realize now that the times that I've written those songs are the times I needed those songs. It was usually at times when I felt so un-strong, so un-Superwomanly, so weak or confused or feeling misunderstood, that the only way to get through that was to write what I was hoping for."

Pinkett Smith likened Keys’ songwriting to "medicine," for both herself and for her listeners.

Later in the interview, Keys touched on the subject again when Pinkett Smith's mother, Banfield-Norris, asked her what was the "biggest misconception" people have of her.

"Probably that I'm very happy," Keys admits, surprising the other women. "Or that I'm very strong."

“I don’t even know how to get mad,” Keys said, when Banfield-Noris asked her about her biggest fear.

"I have been doing this thing for many years, where I have been downplaying whatever it is I need because I never want to come off as too demanding," Keys shared. "I always thought that that was a very righteous, beautiful way to be. I've been battling potentially some self-worth issues because, for whatever reason, I feel I'm not deserving of greatness. I've been smushing it down for so long that it has become a habit — a bad habit."

The singer/songwriter added that this may have stemmed from starting her career at such a young age. Keys has been in the public spotlight since her first album, Songs in A Minor, was released — an album she started to write when she was just 14 years old. Keys added that her mother was “good” at being able to show her anger and her true feelings, while Keys attempted to please everyone around her.

Recently, she says, she's been pulling herself back from the "collar of her jacket."

"I say, 'Don't fix that,'" Keys said. "And it's hard."

Keys’ upcoming memoir, More Myself, will be released on March 31, 2020.

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