9 empowering life lessons by our digital cover star Alicia Keys

As the face of Marie Claire's Future Shapers special and the winner of our Future Shapers Icon award, Alicia Keys shares her life lessons on empowerment...

As the face of Marie Claire's Future Shapers special and the winner of our Future Shapers Icon award, Alicia Keys shares her life lessons on empowerment...

Our new November cover star Alicia Keys  is the epitome of a future shaper - a woman paving the way for those behind her and dedicating her huge platform to inspiring and empowering others while championing social change.

Rising to fame in the early 2000s, her iconic female power anthems shot her to the top tier of R&B, where she has become a strong and defiant role model for women and girls across the world.

While her tracks have always had empowerment at their core, the singer, songwriter and producer’s influence far surpasses music. Keys is an activist and every inch a trailblazer who always finds time to give back.

alicia keys marie claire uk cover

Yu Tsai

From raising money for families living with HIV and speaking out about women’s health to co-founding She Is The Music to end sexism in the music industry, she has always used her platform to advocate for positive change. In fact, at the height of last year's Black Lives Matter movement, Keys created a billion-dollar fund for black-owned businesses and joined Breonna Taylor’s mother in a viral-video campaign to fight for justice following Breonna’s death.

Now 40-years-old, a 15-time Grammy Award winner, New York Times best-selling author and a mother of two, Alicia's shows no signs of slowing down. 'My activism has always been a part of my life but now I'm more inspired than ever with regards to social justice.'

It is for her life long activism that she we are honouring Keys with a Marie Claire Icon award in our annual Future Shapers awards this month. Our interview with the singer also kickstarts our Future Shapers special, a month dedicated to empowering and inspiring content on Marie Claire which launches today.

Yu Tsai

Alicia’s new MC cover in partnership with Armani Beauty is the first ever joint collaboration cover in our history with Marie Claire US, and unsurprisingly it’s all about empowerment.

To celebrate an exciting month ahead, celebrating female trailblazers, Alicia Keys sat down with Marie Claire UK’s Editor in Chief Andrea Thompson to share her life lessons on empowerment.

Here are 9 empowering life lessons from Alicia Keys

1. Don’t give away your power

‘I definitely came to a place where I was recognising that my desire to compromise sometimes overcame my desire to honour my original vision. You know, I’m just finished with giving my power away.’

alicia keys

Yu Tsai

2. Set your boundaries

‘Boundaries are my favourite thing in the whole world. “Here is my space, stay out of it! You’re crossing the line.” I think there’s something about being able to verbalise it...especially around people you love.’

3. Don't compare yourself to others

'Don’t compare yourself to anybody else because there is nobody else like you. You’re gonna waste all this time trying to be like someone else who you’ll never be and they’ll never be you, but you can use that feeling – or even the slight jealousy you might feel about people that conduct themselves a certain way – and you can use that as a barometer to recognise what is it about you that you want to shift or you want to start doing more of.'

Yu Tsai

4. Know yourself and your worth

‘I think it’s actually what saved me from this super-dirty industry, which sometimes makes women feel like they don’t have a choice about how to express themselves, or portray their womanhood or their sensuality or their sexuality – or any of it. Growing up, I was very much around pimps, prostitutes and dealers. I had to conduct myself in a certain way in order to not attract that type of attention. It gave me perspective. As a kid, everyone wants to tell you what to do and how to look and how they want to market you... they literally try to mould you like clay.’

5. Take time for yourself

'Take time for yourself because it’s so precious and it’s so easy to forget about you and it’s so easy to rush and want to hurry and chase your dreams or chase a man or chase a woman or chase a trip or chase a dollar or whatever. And we forget that chasing after yourself, is like, priority number one.'

6. Get rid of the negativity

‘I was able to start making new choices and understand what parts of my life were bothering me; what parts were feeling too heavy [or] toxic. When you go so fast, you don’t have a chance to identify those things...I realised I wasn’t doing the basics that do actually help your skin, help your attitude, help your energy...we’re not really taught about that. The more I started taking care of my outer world, and removing the parts that were feeling oppressive, toxic, negative, the better I felt [inside].’

Yu Tsai

7. Lose your reservations

‘One of the things I’ve learned with age is that there’s so much to who we are. It’s easy to default to the woman you usually are, but we can actually be our most magnificent… most fancy, smart, beautiful [selves] – all those things so many of us hold back. Keys is all about losing that reservation. I don’t have that reservation any more.’

8. Walk your own path

'There are so many ways to walk down a path...choose your own one. Hopefully I've made the path that's a bit off the beaten track feel a bit more accessible for women following behind.'

alicia keys

9. Believe in your superpowers

‘We have these incredible superpowers and we mostly don’t know that they exist because we’re too afraid or too blind or not encouraged to see them. But under pressure, you stand up and you find a way, because you just have no choice and you’re like, wow I had all that in me all along.’

You can pre-save Alicia's new album 'Keys' by clicking this link.

Read Alicia’s full cover interview and follow our Future Shapers campaign on @MarieclaireUK. 

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.