The Grammy award-winning director behind Beyonce's illustrious "Brown Skin Girl" video is committed to redefining the standards of music video cinematography.
When the Carters released the majestic video for their single, “APESHIT” – which they shut down The Louvre(!) for – they broke the internet as the world was awash with amazement at the sheer brilliance of its visuals. However, the whole team who came together to create the alluring project is as vital as the duo who sparked life into its production. One of the most integral players to this project was the second unit director of the Ricky Shaiz production, Jenn Nkiru.
The Nigerian-British, Howard University Filmmaking alum is an artist and director. The first film she directed was En Vogue, which was shot by Bradford Young and Arthur Jafa and was released in 2014. Her second movie, Rebirth is Necessary, was released in 2017. Following its release, the movie was featured on Nowness and won several awards, including the Canal + award at the Clermont Ferrand Film Festival and the Best Documentary at the London Independent Film Festival. Rebirth is Necessary was also nominated for the 2018 best short film award at Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival. She has directed music videos for Kamasi Washington and most notably for directing the music video for the comeback record, “KONG” for music icon Neneh Cherry, which was an official selection at the 41st Denver Film Festival.
Represented globally by Iconoclast, Nkiru was named as a creative icon and one of the 200 women redefining the creative industries in 2018 by The Dots and one of the 100 global Creative Superheroes shaping culture by Utopia in 2018.
Having won her first Grammy for directing the video for “Brown Skin Girl,” the critically-acclaimed track by Blue Ivy, which features Beyonce, WizKid and SAINt JHN, we’ve listed four things you should know about Jenn Nkiru.
1) Jenn Nkiru is an award-winning visionary artist and director from and based in Peckham, London. She was named one of the 200 women redefining the creative industries in 2018 by The Dots; her first film EN VOGUE was shot by Bradford Young & Arthur Jafa and was screened internationally to critical success. Her previous credits include a documentary series for Redbull and a campaign for photographer Rankin. He selected Nkiru as one of 20 of the “industry’s top directors and most creative talent.”
2) She is a visionary artist and film director that explores identity. Her first film En Vogue explored NYC's Voguing & Ballroom culture. Her next video-art offering, REBIRTH IS NECESSARY, explores the magic and dynamism of the past, present and future of Blackness through jazz, hip-hop and Afrofuturism.
3) Nkiru is committed to redefining the standards of music video cinematography. Through the “APESHIT” visuals, she expresses her interpretation of gender and self-awareness while simultaneously promoting Black culture. In the video, the Carters are shown to borrow inspiration from the strength and grace of women. As the camera pans towards the superstar duo in the now-legendary first look of the couple, adorned in an elegant outfit while recreating the look on the world-renowned painting - (The Mona Lisa). The other main artwork that is intended to depict “Apeshit” is a statue of a goddess, the Winged Victory of Samothrace, which appears to epitomize their success – both as individuals and as a couple.
4) Her first Grammy nomination – and resulting win – was for the stunning “Brown Skin Girl” visuals from the Black is King visual album. In the song, Beyoncé specifically highlights the beauty of women who could never pass the “paper bag test.” Nkiru shows a profound understanding of that struggle and brings the artist’s vision to life.
Featured Image Credit: British Vogue