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Rwandan-British Choreographer Sherrie Silver Speaks on Her Involvement in Childish Gambino's 'This is America'

Sherrie Silver shares her experience on her collaboration with Donald Glover for his latest popular music video with Interview Magazine.

"This is America," Childish Gambino's most recent beautiful yet philosophical music video, recently went viral.

23-year-old choreographer, model, philanthropist, teacher and actress Sherrie Silver is the one responsible for transforming Donald Glover's powerful lyrics into interpretive body movements everyone everywhere is still trying to decipher.


The Rwanda-born choreographer went from spreading African culture through what she coins as "Afro-dance" on her humble Youtube channel to featuring her traditional, yet innovative dance moves on Saturday Night Live, and choreographing for artists like Gambino.

Her roots in philanthropy promoting wellness in Africa by providing meals, art workshops, dental and hygiene campaigns and helping to provide housing for homeless children reflect in everything she does as an artist. Her collaboration with Donald Glover for one of his most raw music videos that explores chaos, innocence, joy, and destruction as they pertain to youth in America is no surprise.

Her involvement with the video went beyond just wanting to work with one of the most influential and politically commentating artists out there. In an interview with Interview Magazine, she shares with the world how she came up with such symbolic, powerful moves.

Take a look at key quote from Silver where she puts her involvement in perspective, below. You can read the entire interview here.

On the creative process between she, Donald Glover, and director Hiro Murai:

"With the school kids, I was trying to reflect how we are back home—in Africa. No matter what troubles we have, kids are always dancing and smiling. We always dance and have music playing. The kids' dancing shows their innocence, despite being unaware of what's going on around them. The choir is also meant to be happy and unaware.

With Donald, I put together some choreography for him based on the concept and what I call Afro-dance. He has his own dancing style and had his own ideas for the solos. We definitely met in the middle. He had done ballet before, so there's some of that in there, in addition to American dance references, like the "Shoot," "Reverse," and "Nae Nae" dances. He rehearsed at home with videos he found, too."

On African dances incorporated in the video:

"Well, every six months there's a new Afro-dance move that goes mainstream. For a while now, Gwara Gwara has been the dance that everyone wants to do and learn. It looks simple, but it's actually difficult to do. I lived in South Africa for two months while filming a movie, so I became quite familiar with it. I also included the Shaku Shaku dance from Nigeria, the Alkayida from Ghana, the Azonto from Ghana, and other moves that don't have names, as well."

On what this project meant for her:

"Being a part of the number one trending video means a lot. I don't just do this for fun. I really do it because I want to give back. I travel and teach African dance from all over the continent. I take the money I generate from teaching back to Rwanda, Uganda, and Nigeria to redevelop schools and help get homeless kids off the street. For me, it's not just about dancing. It's the actual outcome that matters most."

Zubaydah Bashir is a filmmaker and writer from South Orange, NJ. Follow her on Instagram and visit her website to view her blog and find out about her latest film and tv projects.

Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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Interview

Adekunle Gold Is Living His Best Life

We speak to the Nigerian star about how marriage and fatherhood have led him to find both newfound happiness and newfound freedom as an artist.

''I'm having the time of my life,'' says Adekunle Gold over a Zoom call while seated in his office in Lagos. ''I'm making songs that are so true to my current energy, my current vibe.'' When I got on the call with the 34-year-old artist on a Wednesday afternoon, the first thing I noticed was his hair tied up in little braids, the second was his wide smile. As we speak, the crooner laughs multiple times but it's his aura that shines through the computer screen, it lets you know better than his words that he's truly having the time of life.

Born Adekunle Kosoko, the popular Nigerian singer got married barely two years ago to fellow artist Simi. Last year, the power couple welcomed their first child. As we talk, Gold points to his journey as a father and a husband as some of the biggest inspirations at the moment not just as far as music goes but as his perspective in life and how he now approaches things.

''My [artistry] has changed a lot because being a father and being a husband has made me grow a lot and more.'' Adekunle Gold tells OkayAfrica. ''It has made me understand life a lot more too. I'm feeling more responsible for people. You know, now I have a kid to raise and I have a wife to support, to be a real man and husband and father for.'' He credits this journey with both his newfound happiness and a newfound freedom as an artist.

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Music
(Youtube)

The 5 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Fireboy DML, Juls, Adekunle Gold and more.

Every week, we highlight the top releases through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

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