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.
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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.”
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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.
“The tree shot in ‘Already,’ that was her backyard,” he reveals. “Yeah, that was the adrenaline [rushing] because she was like, ‘I want to shoot, let’s do it. Let’s start at my house.’ I was like, ‘Hell yeah, let’s do it!’ So we scouted and we found the tree that felt like it was the most relative to ‘The Lion King.’”
“Because it was the first video, that video took the longest to shoot,” he adds. “I want to say we shot that one across maybe like 4-5 days.”
While the visual album is filled with memorable scenes, one of the most talked about is the backyard tea party, which features Beyoncé’s mother, Tina Knowles, and her and JAY-Z’s 8-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy. Fashion curator Zerina Akers, who worked closely with Fordjour, tells ET that was her favorite scene to style… especially with Tina being involved!
“Miss Tina actually was a last-minute addition to that shot. She came to set that day and Beyoncé was like, ‘Mom, you have to be in this,'” Fordjour recalls. “So we put her in her pink look.”
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Akers also joked about having to pack a whole suitcase of apparel and accessories anytime Bey calls. She says Beyoncé had a total of 63 costume changes within the 85-minute film.
“You have to be prepared,” she exclaimed. “If she says, ‘I just want to shoot, I think it would be really nice in a T-shirt,’ I’m like, OK, 10 ball gowns, please. Just in case! Because more likely than not, we get there and it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s so beautiful, we need something more grand.’ And we kind of allow it to shape-shift.”
Akers always makes sure to pack some extra items for Blue, too, as she is consistently surprising the crew. “The cool thing about Blue that not a lot of people know is that a lot of times she chooses when she wants to [be involved],” Akers shares. “She may see her mother doing a shot she thinks is cool. When she sees something in it, she may be like, ‘I want to do that, can I have a turn to do that?'”
“She gets up and she just kind of does her thing,” she adds. “It all kind of comes to life.”
See a breakdown of Beyoncé’s fiercest fashion moments from the film here, and watch the video below for more highlights from Black Is King.
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