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It’s hard to imagine Ciara not being clear about what she wants—whether it’s manifesting a loving partner through prayer (an invocation that later served as the lyrics for her 2021 song “Ciara’s Prayer”) or running her own music label, Beauty Marks Entertainment, with vision and integrity. Yet, like so many of us, she still feels unsure from time to time—about taking risks, or managing life as a CEO, a wife, and a mom of three. When that happens, she digs into her clarity toolbox to pull out a pair of gloves.
“I like boxing when I’m trying to figure things out,” Ciara says. “That’s a part of [my] ‘therapy’—exercise.” Just as important as her physical well-being is her emotional well-being now. Embracing self-love after a very public breakup with the rapper Future (with whom she has a son, named Future Zahir) in 2014 was the a-ha moment she needed to finally live her truth.
“I told myself I’ve got to figure out how to navigate in the next chapter of my life,” she says. “All the things I was aspiring to have at that time, even thinking about love, I was like, It’s going to happen when it’s supposed to. But I can’t love anybody to the best of my ability if I’m not loving on myself. I can’t be the best mom if I’m not loving on myself. So I put more focus on me, taking care of me; it was the best thing I could have done.”
So for Ciara Princess Wilson, coming into her own—both personally and professionally—meant homing in on the practices that nourish her mind, body, and spirit. “It’s knowing what gives you a release, knowing what gives you joy,” she says. “Go to that.”
Ciara has been going since the release of her debut album, Goodies, in 2004. The lead single of the same name and its follow-up, “1, 2 Step,” featuring Missy Elliott, vaulted Ciara into the pop-culture conversation as the First Lady of Crunk&B. The album, which was certified platinum three times over, launched an 18-year music career that’s kept her at the top of the charts. However, recently, her wins have been even sweeter because she’s truly called the shots.
“When I was creating my company, Beauty Marks, in 2019, I was entering a very critical chapter of my career, and I wanted to do things independently,” says Ciara during a mid-afternoon Zoom from the home office of her husband, NFL quarterback Russell Wilson, whom she married in 2016. (For the record, she has a “really cute” office next to his but says she likes using his when he’s not home.) “I had dreamed of running my own label. I remember late nights, talking with Russ about my frustrations.”
Her dream didn’t come without taking a few uncomfortable meetings and a big leap. It was 2019, and Ciara’s then record label was changing leadership. Her vision and the new CEO’s vision didn’t exactly align. “I told everyone that was on my project, ‘I’m going to go do X, Y, and Z. I’m going to do this song called ‘Level Up,’ and I’m going to do it this way.’ ” That wasn’t all. Ciara asked for her masters back, and shortly after, she finished building her own label imprint. “That was one of the best things that could have happened. Not just in my career, but in my life,” Ciara says. “The power of ownership, the power of taking control, the power of believing. I get goosebumps thinking about it. It’s a realization of why you just never give up.”
Expect that same empowering ethos when Ciara releases an album early next year, which already includes singles “Jump” and “Better Thangs” with R&B up-and-comer Summer Walker. (This is her second collab with Walker, who featured “Ciara’s Prayer” on her Still Over It album last year.) Full project details are still top secret, but the Grammy winner will reveal that she’s working closely with her friend the hitmaking songwriter/producer Theron Thomas. Their past magic created the songs “Level Up,” “I Bet,” and “Greatest Love.”
Ciara’s on-my-terms approach is also shaping how she runs her other businesses. “Everything I’m doing at this stage is authentic to me, and I’m intentional about it,” she says. This could be why when Ciara launched her skin-care company, OAM (On a Mission), earlier this year and unveiled her collaborative fashion label, The House of LR&C, her execution was designed to be flawless. “One of my greatest fears in life is not being prepared,” she says. “I want to show up when it’s time to show up—personally, professionally, [for a] performance, everything. That’s my mentality. I can’t waver on the things that I need to do, to be my best in those moments.”
Being her best means, yes, getting in those daily workouts (with or without a punching bag). Her devotion to working out goes back to her high school days in Atlanta when she was a cheerleader and ran track. “I started taking training really seriously, especially once I started to become an entertainer,” she says. “When I was getting ready to put out Goodies, I remember being like, I really want to turn it up a little bit for myself…I want a few more abs,” she says with a laugh.
These days, Ciara isn’t training for a steel core, because after three kids (Future Zahir, 8; Sienna, 5; Win, 2), nature had other plans. “I’ve accepted that my body will never be what it used to be. I have diastasis recti, which is when your ab muscles split after birth,” she says. “When I learned this, it was game-changing because you can train wrong for your abs. I had to educate myself on that and learn to retrain my abs.”
For extra assurance that she’s doing the correct moves for her body, Ciara works with a trainer—typically five days a week—who makes sure she has proper form and is being challenged. “When I train, it’s a combination of plyometric workouts mixed with weights and cardio as well, because I dance. The cardio conditioning is really important for me, especially being here in Denver,” she says of her new home base. “It’s another beast, with the altitude.” On days she’s on her own, her go-to is Peloton. (“I love Ally Love. She’s my favorite.”) Where once Ciara’s regimen was all about how her body looked, now it’s focused on how her body feels.
Ciara embodies a similar mindset when it comes to her eating—sans any food guilt. “It’s really about balance,” she says. Breakfast might be eggs with fruit, accompanied by a small cup of ice-cold decaf coffee or a frappé. She’ll have a mid-morning snack (like a handful of almonds and cashews), and then for lunch, grilled chicken, broccoli, and a sweet potato. After another small snack, she’ll eat veggies with seafood for dinner. Ciara also drinks a gallon of water a day for hydration. “That’s kind of my flow,” she says.
“I’ve really worked on committing to working out and eating as a lifestyle,” says Ciara, who’s a WW ambassador. “And then I have moments where I give myself grace. I haven’t worked out this week, because I’ve been traveling up and down, taking the kids to school, doing interviews. It’s been so much going on that I’m like, Let’s not stress. But tomorrow, we’re back in, we’re back outside, and we’re back in the gym.”
Despite everything, Ciara is thankful for life’s hills and valleys. “When I put more focus on me, I felt like I grew into another level of womanhood. Now, that’s a part of my armor in my life. I will always go back to it. And the next time, when I have my next baby, that place has done me well, loving on me,” she says. “I am so much better to my precious babies because of that mentality. I’m better to my husband because of that. I’m keeping my sexy up. I’m doing the things that fill me up, that make me happy, that get me going.”
For Ciara, living a life this authentic and laser-focused is what dreams are made of.
Photographed by Caleb & Gladys; Styled by Kristen Saladino; Hair: Cesar Deleon Ramirez at @PRJCT_MGMT using @Unite_hair; Makeup: Yolanda Frederick-Thompson with @crowdMGMT; Manicure: Temeka Jackson at A-Frame Agency; Set design: N.O. Studio.
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