Shakira on life with footballer Gerard Piqué, ‘Zootopia’ and new album plans | Inquirer Entertainment
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Shakira on life with footballer Gerard Piqué, ‘Zootopia’ and new album plans

By: - Columnist
/ 12:30 AM March 11, 2016

SHAKIRA                   Ruben V. Nepales

SHAKIRA Ruben V. Nepales

LOS ANGELES—When Shakira was mistakenly referred to as being married to Spanish football star Gerard Piqué in our LA chat, she was quick on the draw. “I am not married. He hasn’t put the ring on it,” the singer riposted. Paging Gerard, then.

Fetching in a Zara top and floral pants, the Colombian music star—one of the most articulate talents we’ve interviewed—talked about Gerard, the FC Barcelona defender with whom she has two sons; her education advocacy; the Disney animated film, “Zootopia,” where she is the voice of Gazelle and also sings the theme song; her plans for a new album; and the dreams she still harbors.


Excerpts from our interview:


With your busy career and Gerard’s own hectic life as a football star based in Barcelona, how complicated do your lives get?


It’s like being married to a soldier who doesn’t die in battle (laughs). He is pretty much anchored to Barcelona, and he can’t travel. He wished to be here with me. He loves LA and America, but he can’t enjoy it as much as I can because he has to be there for his team pretty much every day. They only get like almost a month off per year, but the rest of the time, he’s there training every day and playing matches.

It’s another world—sports—but it’s interesting because I have always [played] solo my entire life. To be next to a person who has so much mindfulness about teamwork—and he’s always thinking about his team—has taught me so much. It’s been a learning curve because I am like, “What do you mean you can’t go? Let’s go!” And he’s like, “No.”

He has to think about the team. There are certain codes, principles and ideas. It’s wonderful! That’s why I want my kids to learn all about sports. Even if they don’t do it professionally, there are many advantages. The way it shapes the personality of children is fantastic.



What surprised you about Gerard over the years of living with him?

As you live with a person over the years, he begins to show you different facets of his personality—as Gerard has been showing me lately. He has shown his tender side since the kids were born. He’s the one who changes diapers and the one who’s there for them. He is the rock of the family.

Gerard might be 10 years younger (he is 29; she’s 39), but sometimes, he is 10 years wiser (laughs). He’s also impulsive and playful. He is quite a character, but it’s fun to live with him.

SHAKIRA asked Disney animators to make Gazelle, the character she voices in “Zootopia,” to be curvier.

SHAKIRA asked Disney animators to make Gazelle, the character she voices in “Zootopia,” to be curvier.

You asked the Disney animators to make Gazelle curvier.

The directors, from the beginning, expressed how important it was for them to make Gazelle look like me. I said, “The first thing you have got to do is put some meat on the bone because poor Gazelle, she looked too fit for me (laughs).” She was too slim and stylized. She had to be curvier. Give her bigger hips.

Girls shouldn’t be too influenced by magazines because a lot of those pictures are Photoshopped to hell (laughs). We should be happy with who we are. Men like to have something to grab onto, right? At least that’s what mine tells me.

In “Zootopia,” the main character, Judy Hopps, faces challenges in pursuing her dream. How does Judy overcoming adversity resonate with you?

My career hasn’t been a path of roses. I feel that the music industry is one that tends to crush the idealists. It has its own mechanism of natural selection of the species, and only the strongest and most stubborn survive. I survived because I have been a little more stubborn than strong.

But you must have a certain aggressive approach to the realization of your own goals. Being disciplined is [also] important.

As in a predator’s killer instincts?

No, I wouldn’t say so. I’m very much into tennis right now. I play every day, if I can. I noticed that my game is very defensive, maybe because I didn’t play sports when I was younger.

I feel that if I have to become a predator or a lioness at some point in my life, I have to keep my own fears in check and keep my own demons under control, because sometimes you can be your own worst enemy with your insecurities and fears.

Did being a mom influence your decision to accept this movie?

It has been quite a thrill to be able to share this with my 3-year-old, but the reason I did this project has a lot to do with the team of Disney producers and directors. When I met with them, I felt instant chemistry—I fell in love with them and the project. They told me about the plot, and I found it tremendously original.

The messages in this movie are powerful, not only for kids of all ages, but for adults, as well. It’s a very positive movie.

Are you planning a new album?

I am starting to dream about a new album. Yesterday on the plane, 12 hours without kids, all the ideas were crashing in like an avalanche (laughs)!

That’s what it does—12 hours without kids. I can’t wait to get back to the studio. Two months ago, I wasn’t craving it the way I do now, but I guess I needed a little distance. The last months have been about me operating with bottles, pacifiers and diapers (laughs).

That didn’t allow me to focus on the creation of music. This hiatus was a blessing in disguise, because it gave me enough objectivity and distance to miss all of that again. It might sound trivial or vain, but it’s vital for me. It’s who I am—every fiber of my being is made of that.

I’m craving it now more than before and maybe, it has to do with Gerard—the fact that we had a conversation recently. He said, “You do your thing, girl. I’m going to be there for the kids.” That made me want to make music again. So, from this month on, that’s what I will be concentrating on.

Can you talk about your education advocacy, which takes you all over the world?

I have been an advocate for education for a long time already. When I was 18 years old, I decided to create a foundation in Colombia to build schools in areas where there’s conflict and extreme poverty. Since then, we’ve been bringing quality education to children who belong to families that have been displaced by violence.

In my recent visit to Bangladesh, I found many challenges that we find daily in the developing world, especially gender disparity and kids not being able to access quality education programs. So I joined Unicef as an ambassador. I’m also a part of President Obama’s commission for education and Excellence for Hispanics. We’ve been working on improving the conditions for Latin and African-American kids in the US to receive the kind of opportunities that they deserve to thrive in life.

How influential were your parents in your decision to become a singer?

My father was the first one who heard my singing voice and told my mom. I vividly remember this moment—he was driving his orange Renault 4. It was back in the ’80s. We were on our way to the beach, and we were singing, like every family sings songs on a road trip. My father said to my mom (in Spanish), “Listen to the girl’s voice. She has a very potent voice.”

I had never heard the word “potent” before, and I did not know what it meant. I was “muy potente”! (laughs) Whatever that means, it means something great.

Then, my mom encouraged it and made me participate in singing contests. She was the one who first asked me and said (in Spanish), “There’s a singing contest for children in town. Do you want to participate?” I said, “I need to think about it. Give me a day.” I was 10 years old.

The following day, I said to her, “Yeah, I’m ready.” I knew that my life was going to change from that decision. And that’s how it all happened.

My parents were there solidifying my self-esteem and helping me to not throw in the towel and not abandon my goals, ideals and dreams. That’s why I insist so much on the importance of family.



What dreams do you still have on a personal level?

I have two little boys—one is 3 years old and the other is 1 year old. One of the things that I dream about constantly and pray for—I find myself praying suddenly again, and it’s been a while since the last time I prayed—is for them to become really close to each other.  I want a united family. That is my personal dream. And like I said earlier, I begin to dream again about making great music.

And your dreams for the world?

So many. I wish for every kid in the world, no matter his condition, race, gender or background, to be able to access quality education. Education is that opportunity that makes us all equal. A lot of the world’s social struggles and problems come from the lack of opportunities like that one (education) and from disparity, from that huge gap between the poor and the rich that especially exists in the developing world. So I dream about that gap becoming smaller.

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TAGS: cartoon, Disney, Gerard Pique, Movies, Shakira, Zootopia

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