"I've been hearing about Dreamgirls, the musical, since I was 16. The second my choreographer, Frank, saw me he said, 'You're Deena.' And I was like, 'Who is Deena?' So I've been preparing for this role without even knowing for years."
Beyoncé's powerful stage presence nearly cost her the part, she says. "[The director] was concerned that I couldn't play young Deena because on the stage I'm so different. I'm so strong and really powerful," Beyoncé says. "So I did a screen test and I was the first person cast." Still, she had to keep her voice in check. "Deena had a very soft voice and she didn't have a lot of soul. So I couldn't grunt, I couldn't growl, I couldn't sing how I wanted until [the song] 'Listen,' which is that important moment."