Grammy winner Alicia Keys plays June, a fiercely independent music teacher in The Secret Life of Bees—a role she says held special meaning for her. "There's a lot of similarities between myself and June that I don't think I really recognized before. ... The way that she guards herself so fiercely. She puts up this persona of strength when, underneath, she's very vulnerable," Alicia says. "I find that I guess I did that in many ways in my life that I didn't really recognize. So when June came to me, it allowed me to release a lot of those things that I didn't really realize I did."
Whether she's acting or playing her music, Alicia prefers to challenge herself in hopes of improving her performances. "I never want to ever find myself too comfortable anywhere, because I don't think you can grow if you're too comfortable. Even with my music, I like to do things that I'm not quite comfortable with, because it pushes me to do better."