Inside Beyoncé's Inner Circle: A Look at the Most Important Relationships in Her Life

Who really has Queen Bey's ear on a regular basis

By Natalie Finn Feb 08, 2017 4:00 PMTags
Beyonce, Grammy Awards, JewelryKevork Djansezian/Getty Images

How many people does it take to make Beyoncé's world go round?

If you just arrived on Earth (ha, timing), you'd be forgiven for thinking that the singer's sun solely rises and sets for her immediate family—namely her husband Jay Z, daughter Blue Ivy, sister Solange Knowles and mom Tina Lawson.

And you wouldn't be entirely wrong, but those aren't Bey's only loved ones. Her inner circle is definitely small, which has made it easier to maintain her increasingly mythological stature among fans and the general public, but there is a core group of supporters whom she turns to—and who in turn have played a bigger role in her life along the way than we might have first realized.

Beyoncé Moments You Forgot Existed
AP Photo/Amy Sancetta

The Friends

You probably have to be a bit larger than life yourself if you want to hang with Beyoncé and feel like a whole human being while doing so, and we'd say Gwyneth Paltrow fits that bill.

The Oscar winner and the Grammy winner have been dear friends for nearly a decade, Gwyneth recalling to Ellen DeGeneres in 2010 how she and then-husband Chris Martin met Bey and Jay Z at a benefit in New York City once upon a daydream and just clicked. 

"She is incredible; she's a great friend on every level," Beyoncé told E! News in 2013 at the premiere of her HBO documentary, Life Is But a Dream. Among other things, the A-list pals have bonded over their approach to parenting, both wanting to give their kids as normal a life as is humanly possible under the circumstances.

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No shade to Michelle Williams whatsoever, as she's right there whenever Destiny's Child reunites, but Kelly Rowland and Beyoncé have remained the closer two-thirds of the revered girl group.

Kelly, whom Beyoncé has referred to as a sister, was part of the celebration for Bey's 35th birthday last year in New York and—hold up—she gave her diamonds. A best friend buying her pal a girl's other best friend...

Moreover, Kelly shared with E! News that her son Titan, now 2, gets along famously with Blue Ivy, who just turned 5 and presumably feels ready to babysit. 

"They are extremely close," the singer said. "It's the sweetest thing. It's the greatest thing about friendship when you're able to grow up together and your children are able to grow up together and it's just years upon years of beautiful friendship and sisterhood."

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Former President Barack Obama called Beyoncé and Jay Z "good friends" of him and Michelle Obama—further proof that when Bey and Jay let people into the inner circle, they don't mess around.

"I've gotten to know these guys over the first several years," Obama told Cleveland's Z107.9 in 2012. "They're good people. Beyoncé could not be sweeter to Michelle and the girls. So they're good friends. We talk about the same things I talk about with all my friends.

"I made sure that Jay-Z was helping Beyoncé out [with Blue Ivy], and not leaving it all with Beyonce and the mother-in-law."

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The relationship became one for the ages early on, starting when Bey sang "At Last" at Obama's inaugural ball in 2009 and then, er, performed the national anthem at his 2013 inauguration.

Beyoncé also got onboard with the first lady's Let's Move campaign in 2011 and she and her husband were frequent visitors to the White House during Obama's eight years in office.

Asked last September on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert whom she'd be OK being stranded on a desert island with, Michelle's answer was Beyoncé. 

"She's a special person," FLOTUS gushed about the singer. "She's a sweetheart. She's smart, she's creative, she's a great mother, she loves her family. She's just a low-key lady—we have a lot in common that way. Except I can't sing…I can't dance."

And if Beyoncé ever said much about anything, surely the feeling would be mutual.

Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Parkwood Entertainment

Said much about anything to anyone other than Oprah Winfrey, that is.

The queen of all interviews scored the last super-in-depth sit-down with Beyoncé in 2013 ahead of the premiere of Life Is But a Dream, and they maintain a mutual admiration society off-camera.

Both ladies of course were included on the guest list for the Obamas' final party at the White House, as were Kelly Rowland and Solange, who performed that night, but ultimately Mr. and Mrs. Shawn Carter appeared to skip the star-studded bash (or at least didn't make it into any party wrap-ups or photos taken at the event, which lasted till 4 a.m.).

Perhaps Bey and Jay just weren't ready to say goodbye to the first family.

Famous Friends

The Crew

As surprising as this may sound, Queen Bey doesn't achieve peak flawlessness without at least some help. And when you find the right people who help you do that, you stick with them and never let go.

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There's no better indication of the degree to which Beyoncé considers her longtime assistant, Sam Greenberg, a member of the family than when she made headlines for shooing Sam away as she fussed over the malfunction-tempting neckline of her boss' Philipp Plein gown at a Tidal event in 2015.

Though that could've been construed as a cold move, we interpreted it as a sign of complete familiarity. Who do you regularly lose it with, while putting on your most serene face for everyone else? Family, of course.

And while the brief interaction made headlines, it didn't seem to affect their relationship behind the scenes: Greenberg was still mentioned in the Lemonade credits last April, listed as one of Bey's two executive assistants.

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"It is a cool experience to learn from her and curate my taste along with hers because she is quite the style icon," Greenberg told Vogue in 2015 while discussing the importance of making the right style choices when you're constantly on the go with Beyoncé.

Beyoncé also doesn't trust just anybody to walk in her stead on a red carpet. That job often falls to stylist Ty Hunter, who's been working with the star for nearly 20 years—those are his camo pants she's wearing in her "Crazy in Love" video—and knows everything there is to know about her style preferences, how to get her in and out of every outfit fast, what she's comfortable dancing in and a zillion other elements we would never think of.

Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Hunter recalled to Billboard in 2013 meeting Bey's mom when he was working as a window dresser in Houston, and she hooked him up with Destiny's Child.

"The next week I was at the Grammys and it just fell into place," he said.

Now a sought-after veteran in the industry, Hunter told E! News last year that the client who gave him his big break continues to inspire him.

"...Being with her so long and seeing her progression and work ethic," he said. "I learned to be in full control of my brand because of her."


Meanwhile, every smart businesswoman knows that you need to align yourself with the best minds in...well, the business. About a year ago, Bey gave her management team a makeover, parting ways with general manager Lee Anne Callahan-Longo after 10 years and bringing Steve Pamon, formerly the head of JP Morgan Chase sports and entertainment marketing department, in as chief operating officer of her company Parkwood Entertainment.

"Lee Anne Callahan-Longo has worked with Beyoncé for the last 10 years. Their friendship supersedes business, and while she is no longer an employee of Parkwood, she will remain an imperative part of Beyoncé's life," Bey's rep told Page Six in 2016.

That may be the case, but it's Pamon—he facilitated the bank's sponsorship of Bey and Jay Z's super-successful On the Run World Tour in 2014—who's since taken center-ish stage as the guy behind the Bey.

Beyoncé's Best Looks

Now, none of these relationships would matter if Beyoncé was the type to hire people to run her show and then go about her merry way. Rather, much has been made of the singer's business acumen, as well as her hands-on style.

For instance, she employed a visual director for years to get all of that uncannily intimate footage around the house that's made its way into her music videos, ensuring that she's always in control of the narrative. Can you imagine the iron-clad NDA that trustworthy soul had to sign?

Tom Ford via Getty Image

The Loves of Her Life

Of course, we really shouldn't give short shrift to the family members who are also Beyoncé's closest conspirators. Solange has already proved she'll fight tooth and nail for her sister's honor, and Tina remains her daughter's dear friend and confidante.

And then there's Jay Z, Bey's partner in everything. 

"I'd like to thank my beloved husband. I love you deep," she told him while accepting her Grammy for Best R&B Performance for "Drunk in Love," her ode to a still-spicy marriage after more than a decade together, in 2015.

"We were friends first for a year and a half before we went on any dates, on the phone for a year and a half," Beyoncé explained, to Oprah of course, in that one revelatory interview. "And that foundation is so important in a relationship. And just to have someone you just like is so important and someone that is honest."

Which is why Beyoncé, who's now pregnant with twins, keeps those she trusts close—and doesn't leave too much time in her packed schedule to bother with anyone else.