Shakira walks into a luxurious upstairs suite at Miami Beach’s Versace mansion wearing high-waisted jeans, a loose T-shirt and a baseball cap pushed low over her forehead, her hair pulled back in a tangle of dirty-blonde braids. Far from cameras, her face is practically devoid of makeup save for mascara, and her eyes are wide over prominent cheekbones. Clear-skinned, barely over 5 feet tall in her sneakers, she looks young and almost fragile — a far cry from the powerful, wrathful woman she has played in her recent, hugely successful songs and music videos.
“I’m still in a reflective period,” she says pensively. “I’m still exorcising some demons. The last I have left,” she adds with a hearty laugh.
One of the most recognizable and celebrated stars on the planet, Shakira is also notoriously meticulous, a perfectionist known for leaving little to chance. But in the past 14 months, the 46-year-old has thrown convention, expectations and her own personal brand of allure-driven celebrity to the wind following her infamous split from Spanish soccer star Gerard Piqué, her partner of over a decade and the father of her two children, Milán, 10, and Sasha, 8. Covered ruthlessly by Spanish tabloids, the separation amid allegations of infidelity on Piqué’s part was immortalized when Shakira recorded “Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53” with Argentine DJ Bizarrap, an incendiary track in which she made a proclamation that became a global feminist mantra: “Women don’t cry; we make money.” The song hit No. 2 on the Billboard Global 200.
Read Leila Cobo’s full Billboard cover story on Shakira here.