Beyonce Knowles

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At the tender age of 11, Beyonce Knowles gave a detailed list of her goals, forever preserved on home video. Rather than a typical barrage of pre-teen dreams, the talented youngster expressed somewhat loftier aims.

One day she wanted to make a gold album, record a platinum follow-up disc, and write and produce the third. So much for lifetime achievements the little girl, born on September 4, 1981, grew up to do all three before she reached 21.

The Texas-born daughter of Matthew, a former salesman, and his salon owner wife Tina, Beyonce the unique moniker is her mum's maiden name didn't always seem destined for stardom. Her first project in the Eighties, Girls Tyme, went nowhere, and after a few other incarnations, the girl group became destiny.

Beyonce was crushed when they lost US talent show Star Search in 1992, and were dropped from their record label in 1995, before they'd even released an album. Dad Matthew, who managed the group, was forced to sell the family home in 1996 to keep them going.

"People thought we were through," she says. Destiny's Child then signed with Columbia, however, delivering a million-selling debut disc in 1997. When a second hit album followed, Beyonce's star continued to rise.

Though the spotlight on the 5ft 6in singer was said to be causing tension in the group, the trio's members see it differently. "Beyonce has truly been an inspiration," says bandmate Michelle Williams. When Beyonce won the 2001 ASCAP Pop Songwriter Of The Year Award, she became the first African-American woman - and the second woman ever - to receive that honour. She launched her long-awaited solo album Dangerously In Love in 2003 to rave reviews.

She has also inspired young girls with everything from her vocal style to her hair. She also draws attention for her sultry hourglass figure, which is often adorned with barely-there designs something she doesn't feel is at odds with her religious upbringing. "I think you can be a sexy woman," she declares, "and still love God."

Somewhat awkward growing up she used to get teased about her ears as a child, she says, because "they were bigger than my head" the former "chubby kid" is undeniably sexy now, though she still sees some flaws.

"Every day I find something wrong," she says. "If I could make changes, my legs would be more muscular, I'd have a six-pack, and my waist would be smaller." She adds: "I have many insecurities. They keep you humble."

It must be hard to stay humble when studio execs are calling you "the next Diana Ross", and you win over the director of your big screen debut. "She could keep up with Mike and make him laugh" says Jay Roach, director of Mike Myers' Goldmember. "I thought, 'Man, she's gonna be a huge star'."

Studio bosses had noticed Beyoncé after her first film project, the MTV hip hop production of Carmen. And on the set of Goldmember she proved she's quite a charmer in person as well. "Everybody fell in love with her," says star Mike Myers. "On her last day, everyone was sad to see her go because she's so nice and funny and silly… and 'bootylicious'."

Several film roles followed, including the lead part in Oscar-winning film Dreamgirls, and a critically acclaimed turn as Etta James in micic bio-pic Cadillac Records. She also tried her hand at serious drama, as the wife of a man who is stalked in 2009 flick Obsessed.

Fiercely protective of her personal life, Beyonce did her best to keep her romance with hop hop star Jay Z under wraps when the pair began dating in 2002. Six years later, the couple discreetly tied the knot on April 22, 2008, though neither party spoke about the marriage in public. She finally debuted her wedding ring five months later.

"What Jay and I have is real. It"s not about interviews or getting the right photo op. It"s real," she said during one of the few times she has opened up about her marriage.
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