Riley Knoxx continues to live life on top
The world's most famous Beyoncé impersonator, Riley Knoxx, is a transgender woman who is known for her verbatim performance of Queen Bey. Her impersonation of one of the greatest musical artists in the world has been carried on for almost two decades. As well as being an actress, Knoxx is also a fashion designer, and in fact, she won an MTV Video Music Award along with music star Taylor Swift.
Before making a return to Washington D.C.'s City Winery, Ms. Knoxx took some time to chop it up with Reviews & Dunn.
Reviews & Dunn - What was the inspiration behind becoming a Beyoncé impersonator?
Riley Knoxx: It happened by accident. I was pushed out onto a stage by a group of drag Queens 2 years before Beyoncé became a solo artist. In 2003 "Crazy In Love" was the biggest song on the radio, and I started performing the song in small clubs around DC and became known as DC's own Beyoncé. As Beyoncé evolved as an artist, I noticed the similarities in us and started working on the look, the performance, the mannerisms, everything and mastered them very quickly, and over time it just became natural. And of course, being a big fan of hers helped, so for many years, in the beginning, I did nothing but eat, sleep and breathe Beyoncé.
R&D - How did you link with Taylor Swift for her music video "You Need to Calm Down"?
RK: When I met Taylor, she told me that she hand-picked me to be in the video she found on Instagram. Luckily I always use my Instagram as a resume or promotion for my career, and she told me that she wanted me to be in her video to represent Beyonce in the scene. After spending an hour talking on set, we quickly became friends and kept and touch. After winning an MTV video music award together and performing at the MTV Music Awards opening the show. To this day, we are still friends and still keep in touch. As the old saying goes, you never know who's watching!
R&D - In 2020, you made history as the first openly trans woman to perform at an NBA game. What was the preparation process for that night?
RK - Initially, when they asked me, they wanted to have me perform for a while, but they were looking for the right time. It wasn't until the news broke that I would be performing that everyone realized that I was the first transgender woman ever to perform at halftime. And I felt the pressure to deliver after finding out I would be the first. I approached every performance with the same importance, so the preparation was no different. However, I would have been in the audience even if it were not me performing because it was such a big deal for my community.
R&D- One of your many talents is designing costumes for your show. Please tell us a little bit about your creative process.
RK - Many of my costumes are replicas of Beyonce's costumes, and some are not. Some of them are things that she would wear, knowing her style and aesthetic. But when replicating an outfit of hers, I find every picture I can from every angle on Google, and I zoom in on every detail to ensure I get the details right. I source the materials and have a great time just getting lost in creating and replicating the costumes. After 22 years of always making everything I've ever worn on stage, it's become a lot less challenging but gratifying, especially when the fans realize that it is a costume that Beyonce has worn. My favorite yet is the one I wore in Taylor Swift's video for you need to calm down.
R&D - Queen Bey is known for her sharp choreography. From her routines, which was the easiest to master and which was the toughest?
RK - The easiest for me is my favorite, "Formation." That choreography is just so hard-hitting and feels so good! I feel so empowered while performing it. The hardest to learn was the everybody mad segment after Diva that she did during Coachella. Something about that choreography always screws me up because it's so fast that I hate doing it! But the audience loves it, so it's hard not to perform.
R&D - Mrs. Knowles-Carter has a very impressive catalog. Which solo album do you revisit the most?
RK - Most people would be surprised to learn that I don't listen to Beyonce's music unless it's a new album or the music for my concert. And typically, I replicate her live performances, so listening to old albums throws me off because they're different from the live ones. My favorite album is the self-titled album. She took so many risks and showed so much of her personality!
R&D - Have you had the chance to meet Mrs. Knowles-Carter yet?
Yes, I have! I had the honor of meeting her several times when she was in Destiny's Child and twice during her solo run. I've also heard from mutual friends that she has watched my videos.
R&D - - What is the one thing you want fans to take away from your show?
RK - Honestly, I have the best job in the world as an entertainer because I make people forget about their problems and create a Vibe to enjoy themselves. And that's what I want people to do: have a good ole time.
R&D - As this year comes to a close, what do you have on the horizon for 2023?
RK- Next year, the goal is to tour my concert around the country and possibly overseas. But also to grow my newest business venture which is Riley Knoxx Couture. The business is growing fast and needs much more attention than my performance career. Especially after having over 20 looks on TV the first year after starting the company during the pandemic.
R&D -Is there anything you would like to add, and where can fans find you on social media?
RK - You can find me on all social media platforms under Riley Knoxx.
Riley Knoxx: An Illusion of Queen Bey happens tonight at City Winery. Tickets are still available for purchase on the venue's website.