The Magic Girls From Beyoncé's 'Lemonade' Who You Need to Know
If we learned anything from marathon watching Lemonade while ignoring all responsibilities and dates we had lined up, it’s that the #BlackGirlMagic movement, a social media phenom designed to celebrate the beauty and power of black women, is flowing through the veins of every scene. Nowhere was that more apparent than in the latter half of the visual album-slash-film, when Beyoncé brought together a girl gang that put Taylor Swift’s tour squad to shame. This group is made up of groundbreaking artists and entertainers, girls who are changing the face of pop culture.
“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman,” as Malcolm X recites in a sample on Lemonade‘s “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” Queen Bey has been proclaiming that girls run the world for years and, with her new music videos, she introduced us to a handful of black women with unique perspectives and artistic skills–we’re sure we’ll be seeing much more of all them soon.
“Every aesthetic choice Bey makes holds meaning, and her selecting these woman whose blackness—especially their black beauty—has individually been criticized feels so commendably deliberate,” New York Magazine‘s Dee Locket explained in her breakdown of the film.
We, like the rest of the internet, turned into the heart-eyed emoji when tennis star Serena Williams once again proved that strong women are sexy during “Sorry,” and we couldn’t handle the gorgeous image of singer and actress Zendaya perched on a New Orleans porch. We really lost our shit over Winnie Harlow, the famed model with the skin condition vitiligo, who popped up with a photo of her great-grandfather during the emotional video for “Freedom,” which also featured Sybrina Fulton and Lesley McSpadden, mothers of tragically slain teenagers Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. From poets and actresses to teenage artists and songstresses, the magic was strong throughout. Now that our jaws are firmly back in place (sort of), it’s time to check out the girls in Lemonade. We expect a pop culture takeover.
Chloe x Halle
Teenage sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey are musical prodigies that Beyoncé has been grooming for the past year. Last year, the duo brought the world to a standstill with a cover of “Pretty Hurts” that was so good, it led to a record deal with Bey’s production company, Parkwood Entertainment. Now they’ve met Oprah and Michelle Obama and begun their path toward music superstardom, releasing their first single from their upcoming album to hold us over until it drops. The single is strikingly unique, showing off the girls’ impressive musical skills–in addition to both sisters’ clear, beautiful voices, Chloe produces, and Halle shreds on guitar.
When the self-titled Beyoncé album reigned down fire on the world back in 2013, it turned Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, already a star in the literary world, into an unforgettable name in pop culture thanks to her words on the empowerment anthem “***Flawless.” Three years later, and its time for 23-year-old Somali-British poet Warsan Shire to take the world by storm with her verse. Bey included Shire’s poems “For Women Who Are Difficult to Love,” “The unbearable weight of staying (the end of the relationship),” and “Nail Technician as Palm Reader” as interludes that tackle issues of race, gender, and feminism.
— Farrah Khan (@farrah_khan) April 24, 2016
Chloe and Halle aren’t the only female songwriting duo set to take over the music industry. Lemonade also introduced us to Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz—the 20-year-old twin sisters who perform under the name Ibeyi (pronounced ee-bey-ee, which means “twins” in Yoruba). Their self-titled debut album dropped last year. It broke down genres to craft an entirely unique sound, which was highly influenced by the Diaz twins’ Cuban heritage and upbringing in Paris. They sing in English, French and Yoruba, a Nigerian language used heavily in West Africa in the 1700s before spreading throughout South America and the Caribbean as a result of the slave trade. Ibeyi performs with everything from the standard keyboard to cajóns and bata drums, and their music is utterly beautiful.
When “Formation” and Lemonade set a target on the black girl magic in New Orleans, it gave us flashbacks to one of the best films in a decade to emerge out of the region—Beasts of the Southern Wild. The Oscar-nominated indie film brought 9-year-old Wallis to Hollywood in 2012. We’re seeing the young star, now 12, in a new light, thanks to Queen Bey. When we saw her holding Blue Ivy’s hand, we collectively flipped out. She’s already inspired a new generation of girls with her starring role in the 2014 adaptation of Annie, and clapped back at a reporter who tried to call her Annie because her name was apparently too hard to pronounce. Now she’s sitting pretty in Beyoncé’s girl gang, as she continues to change Hollywood for the better.
— hey, it's me. (@itsavonell) April 24, 2016
We’re already huge fans of 17-year-old Stenberg here, but now that they’re officially drinking the Lemonade with Bey, the world is ready to catch up. Stenberg, who recently came out online as non-gender conforming, has been ruling Hollywood for years. From their heartbreaking debut as Rue in The Hunger Games and their involvement in the art hoe movement (which focuses on people of color taking control of representation in art), to all of the times they’ve called out cultural appropriation, Stenberg is taking on social activism one project at a time while maintaining their status as one of the coolest people around. The filmmaker just released a short film called Blue Girls Burn Fast about the foster care system, won the “Young, Black, and Gifted” award at BET’s Black Girls Rock awards, and talked openly about their struggles with gender identity. The non-binary teen is the perfect example of the black beauty Beyonce’s Lemonade is all about.
Original imagery via Kathryn Chadason.
Stay tuned to Milk for more lemonade.