A year ago, Beyoncé turned Coachella into a homecoming heard around the world.
Now, 12 months later, the elusive star has practically taken fans up on stage with her for those monumental performances from April 2018 in her newly released documentary, aptly titled Homecoming. The Netflix film, released on Wednesday, spans more than two hours and explores all that it took to bring her vision to fruition nearly a year after giving birth to her twin son and daughter, Sir and Rumi.
Beyond the personal, Beyoncé's return to the stage at the time was simultaneously historical as she was—and remains to date—the first and only African American woman to headline the festival. "It's hard to believe that, after all these years, I was the first African American woman to headline Coachella," she said in the documentary. "As a black woman, I used to feel like the world wanted me to stay in my little box and black women often feel underestimated. I wanted us to be proud of not only the show, but the process, proud of the struggle, thankful for the beauty that comes with a painful history and rejoice in the pain, rejoice in the imperfections and the wrongs that are so d--n right. I wanted everyone to feel grateful for their curves, their sass, their honesty, thankful for their freedom. It was no rules and we were able to create a free, safe space where none of us were marginalized."
As a result, she made the culture of historically black colleges and universities the focal point and celebration of her near-two hours on stage. "When I decided to do Coachella, instead of me pulling out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella," she explained of the show's theme.
Channeling a homecoming at any historically black college or university, the star took her Coachella performance to new heights with standout elements like a full marching band, authentic choreography, symbolic costumes and the formation of her own sorority, Beta Delta Kappa.
"I grew up in Houston, Texas…I always dreamed of going to an HBCU. My college was Destiny's Child. My college was traveling around the world and life was my teacher," the songstress said in the documentary.
"I wanted a black orchestra. I wanted the steppers. I needed the vocalists. I wanted different characters. I didn't want us all doing the same thing...the amount of swag is just limitless. The things that these young people can do with their bodies and the music they can play…it's just so much d--n swag. It's just gorgeous, and it makes me proud," she continued. "I wanted every person that has ever been dismissed because of the way they look to feel like they were on that stage."
Now, thanks to the documentary, fans around the world have the best seat to not only the history-making performance, but also her year-long journey to Indio, Calif. Here's what Beyoncé revealed along the way:
1. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
A production like this definitely doesn't happen overnight. The mother of three revealed they spent four months rehearsing with the band and another four months dedicated to the choreography.
"I wanted it to feel the way I felt when I went to Battle of the Bands because I grew up seeing those shows and that being the highlight of my year, so I studied my history, I studied my past and I put every mistake, all of my triumphs of my 22-year career into my two-hour homecoming performance," she said. They spent so much time together, art imitated life for the performers.
"It literally felt like we were in our own university and struggling together," the star described. "The hours were unbelievable."
2. A Baby Surprise Times Two
As fans well know by now, the star rescheduled her Coachella performance to 2018 after she was pregnant with twins in 2017. She revealed in the documentary the pregnancy was unexpected and difficult.
"My body went through more than I knew it could," she said, noting she was 218 pounds when she gave birth and had developed high blood pressure and toxemia. Also, one of the baby's heartbeat paused several times, spurring her to have an emergency C-section.
3. Rebuilding Her Body
After the birth of her twins, her Coachella performance would be her big return to the stage—her "first time back home"—but it did not come easily. "There were days that I thought I'd never be the same," she candidly said along with footage of her first rehearsals back after pregnancy. The star feared her strength and endurance would never be the same and the choreography was difficult to express because she did not feel like herself. To get in shape and "rebuild" her body, the star's exercise regimen consisted of SoulCycle, other workouts and rehearsing. Diet-wise, she cut out carbs, sugar, dairy, meat, fish and alcohol. "And I'm hungry," she quipped. However, the work paid off, she realized as she wore an old costume from before the pregnancy.
4. An Internal Struggle
Beyond the physical, the star also explained the tug of war being a mom had on her while she was preparing to perform. "My body was not connected. My mind was not there," she said. "My mind wanted to be with my children." In the documentary, the star noted she would breastfeed in her trailer in between rehearsing and bring the kids when she could. "What people don't see is the sacrifice," the songstress said.
As she made clear in the film, balancing her professional life with her life as a wife and mother of three was no easy task. "I have children, I have a huband, I have to take care of my body," she said, recalling the days before children when she could rehearse for 15 hours straight.
5. Doing the Work
While the show itself reflected the star's incredible undertaking, Beyonce explained the depths of her involvement in the production. "I'm super specific about every detail. I personally selected each dancer, every light, the material on the steps, the height of the pyramid, the shape of the pyramid. Every patch was hand-sewn, every tiny detail had an intention," she said in the documentary. She further noted the many meetings they had with designer Olivier Rousteing over the costumes, their colors and silhouettes, as well as the months they spent scripting the show. For rehearsals, the team used three soundstages—one for the band, one for dancing and one for the creative staff, and Beyoncé would span all three.
"It takes a huge team," she said. "It takes a village and I think we all worked to our limit."
6. A Valuable Lesson
While the performance was a significant success in Knowles' life, she noted, "I definitely pushed myself further than I knew I could and I learned a very valuable lesson. I will never, never push myself that far again."
"I feel like I'm just a new woman in a new chapter of my life," Beyoncé continued. "I'm not even trying to be who I was," she said, crediting her children for the change.
7. Blue Ivy, the Singer
Toward the end of the film, Beyoncé's firstborn and seemingly budding performer, Blue Ivy Carter, sings in front of the cameras with help from her famous mom, who whispers the words into her ear.
"I wanna do that again," the 7-year-old said. "'Cause it feels good!"
8. Her Legacy
Ultimately, the Coachella performance was about much more than the show's star. "Creating something that will live beyond me, something that will make people feel open and like they're watching magic or like they're living in a time that's super special, like it's a day that they will never re-live, that's what I want," she said in the film.
"I feel we made something that made my daughter proud, made my mother proud, my father proud, all of the people that are my brothers and sisters around the world and that's why I live. I'm so lucky and grateful that I'm able to take all these crazy ideas and actually make it into something that heals people and that may spark vision in people, that shows them to dream big, that shows them that they are limitless. It's possible. If my country ass can do it, they can do it."
Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé is streaming on Netflix now.