What have you learned through your work in Malawi?
It really opened my eyes to what’s going on in the rest of the world. It has connected me to organizations and NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] in other countries in Africa. It got me involved with the importance of secondary school for girls because girls are not encouraged to be educated in Africa. I’ve been working in Malawi for over a decade. I have a huge commitment and love for the country and I will never desert them. I adopted my two children that I’m so lucky to have living in my house right now. Since then I’ve been working tirelessly trying to make Malawi a more self-sufficient country. I’ve been building orphan-care centers, funding clinics and schools, and the list goes on. I’ve also been supporting this pediatric surgeon, Eric Borgstein. He’s an angel in human form who has given his life to looking after children. He’s tireless and fearless and performs multiple surgeries a day in the most dire conditions. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I built a hospital. I’ve been subsidizing education of other surgeons to work by his side so he doesn’t do everything on his own. That’s really what this Art Basel fundraiser is about: creating an endowment for the hospital with art. Art is how I express myself, and art is how I can change the world.
When I visit your social media accounts, you’re either posting about Malawi or about your family.
My family is everything. I will go to war for them. Whatever I’m fighting for, it’s for my daughters and my sons. I want them to have a good future. I’ve created an unconventional family and we have discussions at the dinner table about all sorts of things. My 11-year-old son can speak eloquently about Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela and James Baldwin. My daughter Mercy plays the piano and can talk to you about Nina Simone. I’m really proud of that.
How do you decide when to include your children in your social media posts?
When I post their things, they give me permission. A lot of times they’ll send me pictures and say, “Please don’t post this,” and I won’t. They have private accounts, and I respect that. I also consider my children part of my work and the work that we do together.
What is going on with you as a filmmaker?
I want to make more films, and I’m going to make more films. I’ve written screenplays and I’m hoping to make them next, but who knows. Making films is very complicated. There are a lot of people involved. When I go on tour I just go, “OK, I’m going on tour.” But with films, I don’t have that kind of control. It’s much more frustrating for me.
Besides Trump, what does Madonna worry about? Do you even worry about anything?
What? I worry about absolutely everything. I worry about my kids all day long. I worry about my health. I worry about whether I’m going to get things done in time. I worry about every project I’m working on. I worry about whether I’ll get to sleep at night. I worry about the state of the world. There isn’t anything I don’t worry about.
Artists Weigh In on Madonna’s Inspirational Role in Their Lives
“When I think of greatness and what a legend is, I always think of Madonna. She has always been true to herself as an artist. She does things her way no matter what, and that always inspires me. Because she never backs down from her beliefs and takes risks, she has made history. Working with her was one of the proudest moments of my career. She’s the ultimate boss.”
— Nicki Minaj
“Madonna paved the way for girls in pop to express themselves sexually, without apologizing. I really admire what she has created!”
— Tove Lo
“Madonna has always been an inspiration to me. She’s a strong woman who knows what she wants and doesn’t compromise her vision. And she’s not afraid to reinvent herself — with every album she experiments more and pushes the envelope. That takes a lot of courage, which motivates us all.”
— Britney Spears
“Madonna is such a singular artist. She created the modern pop star and has pushed boundaries for music for 30 years. She’s legendary, and yet she still brings this incredible young energy.”