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Dancer Papi Ojo Talks Working With Beyonce On Black Is King

Klaudia//August 7, 2020
There are not many performers who can steal even an iota of the spotlight away from Beyoncé when she’s locked in. But in Black is King, her new visual album released last week on Disney+, an intriguing figure returns again and again to demand viewers’ attention. He wanders gorgeous African landscapes pensively, eyelids heavy and skin painted so blue as to appear almost translucent; he dances side by side with Beyoncé, hips jerking, tongue flailing outward.

That man is Stephen “Papi” Ojo, a self-taught 22-year-old Nigerian-born performer who has quietly played an outsize role in bringing African dance to American stages. He flanked Rihanna’s right shoulder at the 2018 Grammys as their gwara gwara dance (from South Africa) became a moment of international fascination; he taught Janet Jackson the kupe (from Ghana) for her music video “Made For Now,” a vibrant whirlwind of diasphoric triumph.

And in Black is King, Ojo is the most prominent face beyond that of its headlining star. He plays the “blue man,” who represents the subconscious of the protagonist prince and the power of African dance. It’s another unexpected moment of ascendance for a self-described “boy from Lagos” who has experienced harrowing personal tragedy and is still searching for financial stability: just a few months ago, he was packaging boxes overnight at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island.

“I have to make sure my people are properly represented,” Ojo says. “The fact that we have a legend like Beyoncé doing these moves will make people generations from now want to research them and think, ‘If Beyoncé is doing it, it must be important! It must have some kind of meaning.’”

'Black Is King' Hairstylists Made 40+ Wigs in Just 6 Days

Klaudia//August 6, 2020
Beyoncé really knows how to get a gal in her feelings. Let’s just say, I’ve have been in a perpetual state of “OMG” since watching the mega star’s latest feat of genius, Black is King. And according to the internet, my social media feed, and everyone with a Disney+ subscription—I’m not alone.

If you’re not hip to the hype yet, the 80-minute film is an odyssey through the African diaspora as told via the music and vision of arguably the most famous (and celebrated) African-American woman in the world…Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. True to form and history, Beyoncé did not come to play...she came to slayyyyy. And that she did.

Anyone would be moved by this unique take on the story of The Lion King--but as a Black woman, I’ve gotta say, it just hits different. Back culture is fully on display and as Queen Bey proudly professes in the opening scene: “Let Black be synonymous with glory.” So, at the risk of sounding overly dramatic *but* completely real, I’ve definitely been sitting taller and straightening my figurative crown over the past several days.

And speaking of crowns, let’s talk about the HAIR—all the mesmerizing hair! Trust, the fashion and beauty were prominent characters throughout the film. So, it comes as no surprise that Beyoncé tapped one of her beloved hairstylists, Neal Farinah, to lead the charge in executing the film’s iconic looks.

Farinah has spent over 15 years working with Beyoncé and created many of her most head-turning ‘dos. And again, if you’ve watched Black is King or seen any of the visuals (that are no doubt filling your IG feed) than you’ll know that the hairstyles created for this film are the most epic of his career.

'Black Is King' Co-Director Shares Behind-the-Scenes Secrets

Klaudia//August 5, 2020
It's no surprise that so many people are already calling Beyoncé's Black Is King "iconic." Ever since the singer's visual album (a companion to the music of The Lion King: The Gift) premiered on Disney+ last Friday, the Beyhive has been raving over the project, with celebrities like Kerry Washington, Adele and Keke Palmer taking to social media to praise the visuals, costumes, cinematography and more.

Now, in an exclusive new interview with ET, co-director Kwasi Fordjour is spilling all the details on how Black Is King came to be and what it was like traveling all over the world with Beyoncé.

"It started a year ago, and at the time, it wasn't a grand idea; it was a video," Fordjour tells ET's Kevin Frazier. "We had just finished 'Spirit.' That was the first visual from the album, and she wanted to release more visuals. We were discussing what we would do, what the process would be, and that's how it all started."

"For me, it's pretty exciting," he adds, of what it's like working on such a massive production. "Your adrenaline starts to rush and it becomes like, 'OK, what are we going to do, how are we going to do it, where do we start?' When you get into the space where you're so interested and enthralled with creating worlds and spaces, it becomes fun, and she makes it fun."

Fordjour tells ET that Black Is King was filmed in several locations, from South Africa to Belgium to London, and even Bey's home in Los Angeles.

Beyoncé's film 'Black Is King' will air in Africa

Klaudia//July 20, 2020
Yesterday, Parkwood Entertainment and Disney+ released the new trailer and poster for Black Is King, a film by 24-time GRAMMY® Award-winner Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, which will premiere globally on July 31, 2020, streaming on Disney+.

The new film based on the music of The Lion King: The Gift, will premiere two weeks after the one-year anniversary of the theatrical release of Disney’s global phenomenon, The Lion King. The film reimagines the lessons from the 2019 blockbuster for today’s young kings and queens in search of their own crowns.

Simultaneously, a distribution deal was announced to make Black Is King available on much of the African Continent, including South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Namibia, Cameroon, Liberia, Burundi, Senegal, Togo, Somalia, Benin, Congo, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Gabon, Cape Verde and many more countries through MultiChoice Group’s M-Net and Canal+ Afrique.

Black Is King was in production for one year and features an impressive list of diverse voices on its creative team, including directors Emmanuel Adjei (the film Shahmaran), Blitz Bazawule (the film The Burial of Kojo), Pierre Debusschere (“Mine” and “Ghost” videos for Beyoncé), Jenn Nkiru (BLACK TO TECHNO film), Ibra Ake (creative director and producer on “This is America” video for Childish Gambino), Dikayl Rimmasch (CACHAO, UNO MAS film), Jake Nava (“Crazy in Love,” “Single Ladies,” “Partition” videos for Beyoncé) and co-director and long-time collaborator of Beyoncé, Kwasi Fordjour.

"Beyoncé Presents: Making The Gift" Submitted for Emmys

Klaudia//July 4, 2020
ABC submitted "Beyoncé Presents: Making The Gift" for the 2020 Emmy Awards consideration in 3 categories:

Outstanding Directing For A Documentary/Nonfiction Program
Outstanding Picture Editing For A Nonfiction Program
Outstanding Hosted Nonfiction Series Or Special

The nomination ballots opened for voting on July 2 and close on July 13. On July 28, the nominations in each category will be announced.

Beyoncé To Drop Visual Album, 'Black Is King,' On Disney+ In July

Klaudia//June 29, 2020
Parkwood Entertainment, in association with Disney+, announced and debuted the teaser video for the visual album “Black Is King” written, directed and executive produced by 24-time Grammy® Award-winner Beyoncé. “Black is King” will premiere globally on Disney+ on July 31, 2020 and will arrive on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the release of Disney’s global phenomenon “The Lion King.”




Beyonce Nominated at the 2020 BET Awards

Klaudia//June 17, 2020
Nominations for the 2020 BET Awards, which celebrates music, film, acting and sports excellence by athletes and artists of color, were revealed Monday, with Beyonce scoring four nods.

This year's ceremony marks the 20th anniversary of the event and BET's 40th anniversary. The show will air live on CBS and other Viacom networks on Sunday, June 28 at 8 p.m. EST.

Album of the Year
"Cuz I Love You," Lizzo
"Fever," Megan Thee Stallion
"Homecoming: The Live Album," Beyoncé
"I Used to Know Her," H.E.R.
"Kirk, "DaBaby
"Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial," Roddy Ricch

Beyoncé Wins Seven NAACP Image Awards

Klaudia//February 22, 2020
The winners of the 51st NAACP Image Awards were announced yesterday and Beyonce won in a total of seven categories!

Outstanding Soundtrack/Compilation Album - "The Lion King: The Gift"
Outstanding Variety (Series or Special) - "Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé"
Outstanding Song - Traditional - "Spirit"
Outstanding Album - "Homecoming: The Live Album"
Outstanding Song - Contemporary - "Before I Let Go"
Outstanding Female Artist
Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration - "Brown Skin Girl"

The show will air live on BET on February 22 at 8/7c.

Beyoncé Wins at the 2020 Grammy Awards

Klaudia//January 27, 2020
Beyoncé has won the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Music Film for her Netflix documentary HOMECOMING: A Film by Beyoncé. The film, which captures her iconic 2018 Coachella performance, beat out the Miles Davis film Birth of the Cool, the David Crosby documentary Remember My Name, the Rick Rubin documentary series Shangri-La, and Thom Yorke’s ANIMA. Congratulations!