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Ibra Ake Talks Working With Beyoncé on 'Black Is King'

Klaudia//August 24, 2020
How was it collaborating with Beyoncé in terms of her imparting her vision, but then giving you the space to go and pursue yours?

It was a really great experience just to have the support from her in terms of resources and the attention it was going to be given because there's so much great work that is made out there that doesn't really get distribution. And another thing was just how respectful she was. I wish all directors and producers of culturally-sensitive material treated it with a level of seriousness that she did. There were so many conversations about what things meant. If it appeared in the shot, she wanted the meaning of what it meant, the history of it, even if it's like a mural, she wanted to know who painted it. I've never produced something and had to also be an archeologist at the same time.

There were a lot of days where I was like, "Oh yeah, I've never really thought about, even though that's part of my culture, I've never really thought about the actual history of what that means." And so, that lent itself to a lot of cool conversations and a lot of really cool moments. We were discussing cultural appropriation and I sent her clips of a Nollywood movie that is named after her. There were just like a lot of just weird conversations that were bouncing around during the project that led to certain choices being made. I really enjoyed all the questions she would ask me, because a lot of them I didn't really have an answer to. It's just some of those things where it's part of your culture, part of your life, but you're like why am I drawn to this? Why am I attracted to this? Like, what does this mean to me? Or what does this mean to other people in my life or other people with my identity, things like that. So, that was probably the most interesting part about collaborating with her, how much she wanted to know and understand. I've never really had a director or producer just be such a scholar. And even still, she was telling me that she had learned about other people and places and things making this project.