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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.

Photo: James Kwan.

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