Reba McEntire Tells Us How to Become the Ultimate 'Girl Boss'

Country music legend Reba McEntire does it all: she's a mom, a musician and producer, an actress, author and fashion designer. We chatted with Reba about how she balances it all to become the ultimate "Girl Boss."

Reba McEntire Tells Us How to Become the Ultimate "Girl Boss"
Jeremy Cowart

How did you become a boss and mentor as a woman in a world traditionally dominated by men?

I feel it’s something that happens. I didn’t decide one day that I wanted to be the boss or leader, it just happened. Say it’s ambition, curiosity, knowing in my gut that there has to be a better way of doing that thing everyone else is doing, or simply just stepping up. I was the 3rd out of 4 kids in a family of 6 so I wasn’t the oldest, the youngest or the only boy. I was the 3rd kid. Not the best position for attention. I worked for attention. I got the bad kind a lot of times but I worked hard for getting positive, good attention.

My Daddy was a leader. My Mama is a leader. People listen when they talk. I learned from the best. I’m still learning from people I look up to. I love the saying, “God gave you two ears and one mouth.” So I try to listen more than I talk. Sometimes I don’t and that’s when I get my foot stuck in my mouth.

I grew up in a man’s world. I did women’s work and I mostly did men’s work. I learned more from the chores outside working cattle than I did inside doing house work. I loved being outside. So I was around the men more. I saw how their minds worked. I realized that because I was a girl, I couldn’t do the harder physical work the men could do. I was fast to volunteer to drive the hay hauling truck because I knew I couldn’t throw a bale of hay up on the truck like the boys could.

I have had so many women to whom I look up to, that I study and watch how they handle being a female in a man’s world. They do it with grace, poise and tons of hard work. You just work harder. You just do it.

–Reba McEntire

Do you feel the expectations placed upon women are more rigid than those placed on men?

Always. From mama washing Pake’s clothes and putting them up to where us girls had to wash and put up our own clothes. Even though we were outside with Pake working cattle right beside him. I went into the music business knowing I had to do more. I loved it! I accepted that challenge. In one of my shows during my 1996 tour, I had 15 clothes changes, along with video, 10 dancers and all the bells and whistles you could come up with! I loved it!!!

Maybe we, as women, are putting those expectations on ourselves. But I’ve always felt like the expectations were always more rigid on us than on men. But then again there was my older brother Pake who was a 3rd generation rodeo kid. Daddy and Grandpap were both world champions. What a tough expectation that was for Pake.

Mama made sure all us girls had our college degrees so we could make a living for ourselves no matter what. All of our upbringing came from ambitious, hard-working parents. All four of us kids have been successful in our adult years. I’m very proud of the whole family.

–Reba McEntire

What would you tell younger women who have high aspirations [to build a brand or start a business] but don't know where to start or have a mentor to guide them?

I would say, surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do. Learn from them. Ask questions. Start at the bottom and learn every aspect about what you want to do. For example, if you want to be in the music business, go out on the road with a group. Get a job selling concessions, working as the assistant tour manager, carpenter, roadie, whatever job you can get. Go intern for a record label or management firm. Take classes at a University in Music business. Saturate yourself in your dream and learn from those who have been down that road before you. Then start paving some new roads for the young people coming up behind you. Pay it forward.

I knew nothing about starting a clothing line or a brand. Mama always said “Be true to the brand,” but I didn’t really understand that until I had one of my own….me. I’ve always wanted it to be honest, true to my character and morals. Going with my gut, which is basically listening to God who guides me, is my barometer of what I do and don’t do nowadays . We have been working on the REBA brand 11 years now. We’ve certainly had our ups and downs but wow, have I learned a lot! Again, I’ve surrounded myself with people I have learned from and who have helped me grow into the businesswoman I am today. 

There is no ‘I’ in “Team.” That’s a good thing.

Pick a "Girl Boss" anthem: Going Out Like That, Fancy, or All the Women I Am?

"All the Women I Am" could definitely be my anthem. It tells of where I came from and where I’m going.

At Livingly, we 'Live Life Beautifully.' What do you think makes a woman beautiful?

I think a huge, giving and loving heart makes a woman beautiful. When she has that, you can see it a mile away. 

There you have it, you heard it straight from the Girl Boss of all Girl Bosses, Miss Reba McEntire! A big thank you to Reba for chatting with us and sharing her secrets to a fulfilling and successful life! Be sure to check out Reba's new, namesake line on sale now at Dillards.

Fashion, beauty and lifestyle editor at Livingly. Miami Hurricane obsessed, forever Miami Heat loyal, Food Network junkie. You can reach me anytime at alison.higgins@livingly.com.