She won't be leaping any tall buildings or saving the planet from total annihilation at the hands of a well-funded, deranged, criminal mastermind. But in the forthcoming video for "Superwoman," Alicia Keys will be paying homage to all of womankind, in her own unique way.
"The video is representing all kinds of superwomen, and the exciting part is, not only am I able to be myself in the video, but I'm able to play all of these other women as well," Keys told MTV News on the "Superwoman" set this week. The single is the latest from Keys' 2007 LP As I Am, which to date has sold nearly 3.5 million copies. "One example is a woman who is a young mother who is struggling and trying to make ends meet but also has bigger dreams for herself. She wants to go to school, so we'll see her filling out applications. She's a superwoman because it's hard to do all of those things."
In the video, shot by director Chris Robinson (who helmed Keys' "You Don't Know My Name" and "Karma" clips), Keys will also portray a Somali woman, who crosses miles of scorched earth just to supply her family with fresh drinking water, as well as a cutthroat businesswoman and a female pharaoh.
"I love the diversity of it all and how it says, 'No matter who we are or what we're going through, we all are superwomen,' " Keys explained. "It's going to be a pretty incredible journey. It's one of my favorite songs off of the album, and it's just very inspirational, because I wrote it when I really needed to hear some words that said to me that, even when you're not perfect, and you're kind of out of it, and you're off, and you're feeling like a mess, you're still a superwoman. The song, every time I sing it, makes me feel inspired to be however I am that day."
The video, which is expected to begin airing later this month, is one of a handful of projects occupying the singer's time these days. In addition to her current U.S. tour with Ne-Yo and Jordin Sparks scheduled to wrap June 18 at New York's Madison Square Garden, and the premiere of her "Alicia in Africa" documentary set for July 4, Keys has been busy reading movie scripts and working on material for her next album.
"Musically, once I find a comfortable place, which I'm in now, I do tend to create, just to create," she said. "So I can't say I'm working on an album. I just let it develop as it goes. I have a couple of ideas for the next record, and I know how I want it to feel. But I'm just being creative right now, and not forcing it into something.
"It comes naturally, as we grow," she continued. "You just find different sides of yourself that you realize express who you are at that time. When I first started out, I was just brand new to everything. And really, I love the person I was — and I am still that person in many ways — but it's still exciting to grow as a person, an artist, a woman, who just has strong visions and ideas and thoughts. I am proud of my progression, and it represents my growth as a woman. I am definitely feeling my own freedom a little bit more, and my own strength and ability to create the life that I want for myself."
This October, Keys will be seen on the big screen alongside Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and Dakota Fanning in "Love and Basketball" director Gina Prince-Bythewood's "The Secret Life of Bees."
"It's a beautiful book, and it's a beautiful story," explained Keys, who made her movie debut in 2007's "Smokin' Aces." "Sort of like a finding-your-way story, which is something everyone can relate to. I'm super-excited about it, and I feel it's my best work yet."
Beyond that, Keys said she'd love to be considered for the lead in any Lena Horne biopics, and is gunning for the lead in one of Halle Berry's upcoming projects: a biopic on the life of Philippa Duke Schuyler.
"She was a classical pianist during the '40s and '50s, and she was half-black, half-white," Keys said. "It was a very interesting time to grow up in that way, and be a classical pianist, so it's an interesting story that I would love to be a part of."