It was the Instagram post that sparked many a lockdown goal: a bathroom selfie of one Kelendria Rowland, 39, casually serving us bawwwdy in a strapless black bra and bikini bottoms. Maybe you were among the Instagram followers—she has 10.4 million of them, after all—who gazed in awe upon her long, toned frame, or exclaimed, with heart eyes and flames and that one emoji that looks like The Scream, over her glistening, flawless brown skin. Maybe you noticed that even the beautifully tiled shower behind her was sweating.
But that was back in May—what feels like many years and vibes ago, in an increasingly turbulent 2020. By late August, Kelly’s blessings hit different.
Her backdrop on the afternoon we chat is bare and beige, a room inside the bubble of a Lifetime production she’s filming in Vancouver, British Columbia (a sequel to last year’s hit TV movie Merry Liddle Christmas). She’s been away from home nearly five weeks now, and while Kelly’s skin still glows—that never changes—a giant gray hoodie is concealing her figure. “Hold on, hold on, I’m just gonna do this,” she says at the top of our Zoom call, standing up suddenly. She turns sideways, her midsection positioned in view
of the camera, then lifts the bottom of the hoodie to flash the new body she’s rocking: a baby bump that’s recently popped.
“We had been talking about it loosely, and then COVID happened, and we were just like, ‘Let’s see what happens,’” Kelly says of how she and her husband, Tim Weatherspoon, decided to try expanding their family (their son, Titan, turns 6 in November). To Kelly’s surprise, she got pregnant right away. In the midst of her gratitude, she confesses, she felt hesitant to make her joyful news public, with the pandemic, a racial reckoning, and a severe economic downturn roiling the country. She was even uncertain at first about sitting for this interview. “But you still want to remind people that life is important,” she says. “And being able to have a child…I’m knocking at 40’s door in February. Taking care of myself means a lot to me.”
So does an adoring legion of folks who might ask questions now about a different kind of delivery. “I was thinking, Oh my god, my fans are gonna be so disappointed.…They wanted an album first, but they got a baby!” she says. “And I was like, ‘I have to figure this out so they get both.’”
Hard work and Kelly Rowland go together like the chocolate and peanut butter she tells me this pregnancy has her craving. She’s been a music star for 22 years, first as a member of Destiny’s Child alongside her childhood friend Beyoncé Knowles, then as a solo singer and songwriter in her own right (the most recent of four albums, Talk a Good Game, dropped in 2013). Over that stretch she’s racked up various other titles: actress, author, globe-trotting TV personality, activewear designer, model, executive producer, wife, mom.
Pre-pandemic, pre-pregnancy, her days were jam-packed. When not jetting off to Sydney, where she’s a coach on the Aussie version of The Voice, Kelly would start a typical day in L.A. with a breakfast of oatmeal sweetened with raspberries and sometimes sprinkled with chia seeds or flaxseeds. She’d get Titan off to school, then head to a 90-minute workout session with her trainer, Massy Arias, or with the pros at the Dogpound gym near her home. She’d typically keep her exercises varied—cardio, weighted crunches, band work—but all of her rigorous sessions had one thing in common: the moment, halfway through, when endorphins were building and Kelly would fantasize about the snack on the other side. (“I am obsessed with sandwiches,” she says, and her face does indeed go dreamy. “A turkey sandwich with mustard and rye and sprouts and onion and sometimes a little avocado…”)