The Only Way a Shy Beyoncé Made It Through the 2003 BET Awards Was With Her Alter Ego

When one thinks of multi-talented superstar Beyoncé, the word “shy” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. While she’s never given us a reason to believe that she’s timid and reserved, the singer previously revealed that she does have a shy personality in real life. However, when she hits the stage, Beyoncé is possessed by her famous alter ego, who has helped her get through many performances — especially her first-ever BET Awards gig in 2003.

Beyoncé during the launch of Jay Z's 40/40 Club in New York City
Beyoncé attending Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club launch in 2003 | Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Beyoncé was too nervous to perform at the 2003 BET Awards, so Sasha Fierce took over

In 2003, Beyoncé hit the BET Awards stage for the first time with an electrifying rendition of her breakthrough single “Crazy in Love.” The performance marked the singer’s first live gig as a solo artist post-Destiny’s Child, and it certainly did not disappoint.

Beyoncé had everything, from gigantic letters that spelled out her name in the background to hard-hitting choreography. She was also joined on stage with her now-husband Jay-Z, who many suspected she was dating at the time but hadn’t gotten official confirmation.

During the 2006 television special, BET Official Presents Beyoncé, the Grammy winner opened up about the performance, sharing that she mapped out the entire production long before it even took place.

“I was very nervous, of course. I remember when they told me I was performing on BET, in my mind, I saw the set immediately. I said, ‘I want something big. I want something that says I’m here. Beyoncé,'” she explained. “I drew it out. I drew out the ramp. I drew out the boxes for me and my girls. I drew out the lift right in the ‘o’… I saw all of that in my head before it happened. It’s great when you visualize something and it actually comes to life.”

Beyoncé performing her hit single "Crazy In Love" at the 3rd Annual BET Awards in 2003
Beyoncé performing at the BET Awards in 2003 | Steve Grayson/WireImage for BET Entertainment

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According to Beyoncé, the performance went “way better” than she anticipated, mainly because her alter ego, Sasha Fierce, took over.

“Sasha was in full effect,” Beyoncé continued. “Sasha is my alter ego … And when people see me, sometimes I think that, when they meet me and speak with me, they’re expecting Sasha. I’m really kind of shy. Not really shy but more reserved and nothing like Sasha. I guess I wouldn’t be very entertaining on stage, so Sasha comes out, and she’s fearless. She can do things I cannot do when I’m in rehearsal. I mean, I can try, but then it just doesn’t happen. I can sing notes, and sing strong, and do all these things that, when I’m just by myself, I can’t do.”

Beyoncé calls the performance her ‘coming out’

Following the performance, Beyoncé received a standing ovation from the crowd. Even her former bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams cheered her on after she dominated the stage with the iconic act.

While speaking about the performance with BET, Beyoncé called it her “coming out,” noting that the gig marked a new beginning for her career.

“When I performed at the BET Awards, it was almost like my coming out,” she shared. “I remember right before I performed, I raised my hands up, and it was kind of the first time I felt something else come into me, and I knew that was gonna be my coming out night for the BET awards.”

Beyoncé’s 2003 BET performance remains iconic

Though it’s been 18 years since Beyoncé’s first-ever BET Awards performance, it’s still considered one of the most memorable acts ever to be seen at the ceremony.

Not only did it define the odds, but the performance also proved that Beyoncé was on the rise to becoming one of the greatest female performers in history.

Today, the act remains iconic and holds such high regard in pop culture that one celebrity paid homage to the performance and Beyoncé’s showstopping style at the 2021 BET Awards.

Actor Zendaya attended the ceremony wearing a lengthened version of the purple Versace dress Queen Bey wore for her memorable 2003 BET Awards performance.

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The Euphoria star showed off her attention-grabbing dress on Instagram, captioning an up-close shot of her look, “Crazy in love.”

The gown was met with high praise from fans and fellow celebrities. Even Beyoncé’s mom, Tina Knowles-Lawson, gushed over the look on Instagram, writing, “Love you in this vintage Versace dress!! Beyoncé wore one just like it on her first solo performance [at] the BET Awards. I cut it short.”

Though Beyoncé hasn’t publicly addressed Zendaya’s version of her old Versace dress, she may be just as in awe over their striking resemblance as the rest of us are!