Disney + and Beyoncé’s Black Is King Showcases Africa’s Beauty & Power

 Disney + and Beyoncé’s Black Is King educates viewers on Black culture, wealth, power, love, and peace with amazing visuals and heavenly vocals.

Toree Weaver

AfterBuzz TV Host & Writer
Posted On: August 4th, 2020 6:18 pm pst

Maria Menounos
Keven Undergaro
AfterBuzz TV Founders

Founded by Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos and Producer Keven Undergaro, AfterBuzz TV is the artist-friendly entertainment news platform that celebrates, discusses, interviews, promotes and reports on the widest range of stars, creators and content through video, audio and article publications.

It is very rare that art reaches and resonates with observers regardless of its medium. Whether the melodies flow through your chest, the monologues take you to a memory that has changed you, or the visuals are so breathtaking it’s impossible to look away. It’s even more rare that this work is rooted in showcasing and inspiring the African and African American community. Beyoncé’s Black Is King film streamed on July 31 and at 12 am, she reached that rare level.  

 The project started when Beyoncé joined the cast of the live action Lion King released in July of 2020. Many were excited to know the star would be voicing Nala but that was only the beginning of the journey. In addition to the heartwarming tracks we grew to love like Can You Feel the Love Tonight, the singer executively produced The Gift featuring voices and beats from all over the continent of Africa. The sounds and rhythms complimented the beautiful land that is often overlooked and painted in a poverty-stricken light. Her genius didn’t stop there as she produced a film a year after the album’s release with heavenly visuals and words that penetrated the soul. The production makes the monthly subscription to Disney +, worth every penny. 

 The plot of the visual follows the story of a boy growing into his potential- mirroring the Disney classic. Though the story is straight forward, the symbolism allows the audience to take a deep dive into the African diaspora and the common experience of Black people. Those of us who were once considered three fifths of a person, come from a rich history of tradition, ritual, wealth, and spiritual guidance. The film opens with a biblical reference of a baby floating down a river in a basket. As Beyoncé serenades our ears with Bigger and bathes the child- comparable to the story of Moses- it reminds us of a time where our ancestors’ prayers were the only things we had to hold onto. With only the skin on our bones to aid us in our journey, the voices of our elders reminded us that our destiny was much bigger than we could imagine. As the hour and a half long film pans out, images of Oshun, Maryam, Auset, Asiyah, Yemaya, and Kali appear to display goddesses of the flesh and spirit. 

While the child finds his way, he is met with challenges including decision making, doubt, and death. Although these are common themes for people, the film explores them through the lens of the black experience. As the actors perform a burial ceremony, they are dressed in white to represent rebirth and respect- contrary to the black often seen in other cultures. The film goes on to depict other overlooked images such as African nightlife, wealth, love, beauty, and legacy. Usually, our culture and its successes are fictionalized in movies like Black Panther and aren’t seen as obtainable. Mood 4 Eva plays into a life of luxury with the absence of European influence or standards- something we rarely see. Black Is King continues breaking norms with the beautifully shot Brown Skin Girl visual. If you are a brown skin girl and/or raising a brown skin girl, this message speaks to you in a different way. The women featured was an homage to every black girl who didn’t feel represented and were often told their features disqualified them from being a walking goddess. While Black girls are taught to be strong, the daintiness quality of the cinematography and costuming, challenges this societal construct and allows them to feel fragile, delicate, and precious. Though she emphasizes this idea, the depiction of strength is not far behind with her creative interpretation for My Power. The high energetic sound is met with abstract and distinct images. While the set is monochromatic, women of all ages and sizes bring the color with their choreography, costumes, and overall presence. The song, which was written to accompany the Lion King’s climatic battle scene, exceeds all expectations and serves as a war call to women across the globe. Blue Ivy, women carrying children, elders, and young women lack hesitation in the video and demonstrate a Black woman’s willingness to stand on the front lines, no matter the circumstances. 

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Of course, the powerful imagery would be nothing without the extensive research and attention to detail. It was clear from beginning to end that everything had a purpose and was intentional. The dances performed in the film not only showcase rituals and communication, but also speak to the world of dance. In basic dance programs, African dance classes and instructors only pull from areas in Africa that have been deemed acceptable. Thus, limiting the knowledge and appreciation of the diaspora as a whole. The film explores native dances from in and outside of West Africa which is a luxury to see on the screen or at all. Individuals are shown with hairstyles and ensembles that are much more than a fashion statement. In a country where Black people face hair discrimination in the workplace and young Black girls are oversexualized for wearing the same thing as white children, the positive representation cuts deeper. Braids, bantu knots, cornrows, traditional garment, body paint and accessories bring viewers into a world of deep-rooted history.  

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I typically keep comments short and sweet, but I just watched the trailer with my family and I’m excited. 🎶please don’t get me hype🎶🤪 “Black Is King” is a labor of love. It is my passion project that I have been filming, researching and editing day and night for the past year. I’ve given it my all and now it’s yours. It was originally filmed as a companion piece to “The Lion King: The Gift” soundtrack and meant to celebrate the breadth and beauty of Black ancestry. I could never have imagined that a year later, all the hard work that went into this production would serve a greater purpose. The events of 2020 have made the film’s vision and message even more relevant, as people across the world embark on a historic journey. We are all in search of safety and light. Many of us want change. I believe that when Black people tell our own stories, we can shift the axis of the world and tell our REAL history of generational wealth and richness of soul that are not told in our history books. With this visual album, I wanted to present elements of Black history and African tradition, with a modern twist and a universal message, and what it truly means to find your self-identity and build a legacy. I spent a lot of time exploring and absorbing the lessons of past generations and the rich history of different African customs. While working on this film, there were moments where I’ve felt overwhelmed, like many others on my creative team, but it was important to create a film that instills pride and knowledge. I only hope that from watching, you leave feeling inspired to continue building a legacy that impacts the world in an immeasurable way. I pray that everyone sees the beauty and resilience of our people. This is a story of how the people left MOST BROKEN have EXTRAORDINARY gifts.❤️✊🏾 Thank you to Blitz, Emmanuel, Ibra, Jenn, Pierre, Dikayl, Kwasi and all the brilliant creatives. Thank you to all at Disney for giving this Black woman the opportunity to tell this story. This experience has been an affirmation of a grander purpose. My only goal is that you watch it with your family and that it gives you pride. Love y’all, B

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As viewers have flocked to watch the film, an interesting take has floated around. With the powerful yet rare imagery, a lot of people have associated the horns, lip rings, and “dark cinematography” to satanic energy. If anything, this argument emphasizes the need of a film like Black Is King. Due to our schooling and societal construct, relating such things to ungodliness is a tactic used to strip Black people of their pride, culture, and historical significance. Slavery stripped many of their roots and made it nearly impossible to trace; However, erasing words does not erase the history. The more we see Black people as more than a threat, the concept of Black wealth, prosperity, and peace won’t feel like an act of defiance. 

“When it’s all said and done, I don’t even know my own native tongue. And if I can’t speak myself, I can’t think myself, and if I can’t think myself, I can’t be myself. But if I can’t be myself, I will never know me. So, Uncle Sam, tell me this, if I will never know me, how can you?”

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About The Author:

Toree Weaver is an AfterBuzz TV host with a passion for glamour and kingdoms. When she isn’t modeling or dancing, she can be found binge watching shows from Gossip Girl to Game of Thrones.

Founded by Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos and Producer Keven Undergaro, artist-friendly AfterBuzz TV is the world’s largest digital broadcast network and pop culture news platform, producing post-game ‘after-shows’ for nearly all favorite TV shows, interviewing cast and showrunners and providing the widest video, audio and article coverage of shows, content and influencers than any entertainment news platforms in existence

“We don’t just celebrate and cover the top shows, content and stars, we celebrate and cover ALL the shows, content and stars.”

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