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Osip Aksenov
Osip Aksenov

Black Is King

Odie "Odienator" Henderson has spent over 33 years working in Information Technology. He runs the blogs Big Media Vandalism and Tales of Odienary Madness. Read his answers to our Movie Love Questionnaire here.

Black Is King

The film, which will premiere globally on Disney+ on July 31, is based on the music of The Lion King: The Gift, and will premiere just two weeks after the movie was released last year. "The film reimagines the lessons from the 2019 blockbuster for today's young kings and queens in search of their own crowns," Disney said on Sunday. Many artists featured on The Lion King: The Gift album will also make appearances on Black Is King.

Beyoncé's latest is a love letter to the African diaspora, putting the diversity and dynamism of its aesthetics on display. For so long, Blackness has been deemed by those who exist outside it as ugly, undesirable, and unworthy. But Black Is King is a reminder that that kind of thinking is erroneous. As she says in the film, "we were beauty before they knew what beauty was."

During a Thursday appearance on Good Morning America, she spoke about working with talent to make her vision come to life. "I worked with a diverse group of very gifted directors, actors, and creatives from all over the world to re-imagine the story of The Lion King," she shared. "The narrative unfolds through music videos, fashion, dance, beautiful natural settings and raw talent."

South Sudanese beauty Aweng Ade-Chuol has come a long way after being discovered while working at McDonalds in Australia. Since then, she has walked in shows for Pyer Moss, Asai and Rihanna's Savage x Fenty label. (She even nabbed a campaign with them!) When Ade-Chuol isn't strutting down the runway, she spends her time working on her law degree at the University of New England and hanging with her new wife Alexus Ade-Chuol!

Ariana Yaptangco oversees all #content across ELLE's social media platforms and covers beauty news. When she isn't staring at a screen, you can find her drinking tea, trying new skincare products, or yelling about the New York Mets.

Sure it was a visual feast and a beautiful celebration of black culture and ancestry, but I didn't expect anything less from Queen Bey. The soulful singing, the mind-blowing dance routines, and the poetic interludes were dazzling. In an interview with Fox seven years back, I spoke about the power of brand Beyoncé and her sheer authenticity when many were labeling her "over-rated."

Secondly, Black Is King was timely. Successful ideas often tap into the current cultural conversation. That's how brands start spontaneously emerging within the culture. Think Dove's campaign for real beauty and the cultural conversation around inner beauty and self-esteem. Or De Beers right-hand ring (a diamond ring that women brought for themselves to signify independence,) and the cultural conversation around female empowerment. And while Black Is King was in the making, far before the horrifying death of George Floyd and the recent Black Lives Matter protests, the project used this cultural momentum to its advantage. It became the voice of black people worldwide by celebrating the beauty and richness of blackness.

In true Disney style, I love how Black Is King kept it playful and positive. It was difficult not to like the Tweets on social media that had the hashtag #BlackIsKing because the favorite button turned into two lions. There was also a sense of community and collaboration in its marketing. The Black Is King brand extended to merchandise on Beyonce's website to support black businesses.

While I talk a lot about influential female leaders who are change-makers, rule breakers, and pioneers in my book, The Kim Kardashian Principle. Women like Kim Kardashian, Josephine Baker (the first black superstar who rattled her way to stardom despite the New York Times calling her a Negro wench,) generated similar fanatical followings. And like Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian and Josephine Baker's power lies in their sheer authenticity. They've never pretended to be anything but themselves. And they've done it without regard for what other people think of them.

From diamond-encrusted outfits twinkling in the blazing desert sun to 20-deep squad of leopard-clad men equipped with a matching Rolls Royce. It is immensely beautiful. The visual feast sees Beyoncé make an epic 69 costume changes throughout amidst additional breathtaking setups in the desert, in forests, over bodies of water. With special appearances from most of the album features including Pharrell, Tiwa Savage, Yemi Alade, Shatta Wale, Tekno, Mr Eazi, Tierra Whack, Busiswa, Nija and of course Blue Ivy, it was a meeting of diasporic minds that showed we are not a monolith.

"The voyages of Black families, throughout time, are honored in a tale about a young king's transcendent journey through betrayal, love and self-identity," Disney and Beyoncé's Parkwood Entertainment said in their joint statement announcing the visual album. "Black Is King is a celebratory memoir for the world on the Black experience." 041b061a72


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