Beyoncé’s new visual album Black Is King is a hit. It has become the number one film on Disney+. For the project, Beyoncé worked with several African writers, directors, singers, fashion designers, and dancers.
One of the main dancers known as the “Blue Man” is a 22-year-old Nigerian dancer named Stephen “Papi” Ojo. In a recent interview with Buzzfeed, he gave us behind the scenes details on what it was like to have Beyoncé as a boss and how he was able to keep it a secret.
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Quick Testimony! 2019 was a emotional year for me because that year is when I turn 22. I lost my older brother SEDO when he was 22years old in a tragic accident💔. So I naturally wasn’t excited to celebrate my 22nd birthday at all because of fear, anger and a whole lot of emotions that I can’t even explain. But in every situation where satan tries to bring you down, God’s plan will always prevail. On my birthday we shot “Already” and it had to the greatest birthday gift ever🥺. I just thank God that on that day, he gave me a reason to smile, laugh, be thankful for life and enjoy myself. God never forsakes those that puts their trust in him. Thank you @beyonce @kwasifordjour @jaquelknight for this day!!! Y’all don’t even understand how heavy my heart was that day but God used y’all to uplift me 🙏🏿. I love and miss you SEDO, keep watching over me and the family, keep blessing and protecting us. #smileforsedo #danceforsedo #blueman #papiojo #blackisking #beyonce
“I got on the project first as a dancer. [Beyoncé’s team] booked me sometime in the summer of last year to come work on “Spirit”. It was the first music video she had dropped from her album (Lion King: The Gift). And then from there, they just kept calling me back to help choreograph from different pieces of the songs, being that the album was more of an Afrobeat project.
They brought me on board to show them Afro movements, Afro dance style, and give them the basic meaning to the dance moves. Then my role just grew as time went by. I guess they just really loved my energy and loved who I am as a person, and [the director] blessed me with the role”, stated Ojo.
He continued by stating that he wasn’t sure of how big his character would be,
“I got on set one day and they were like, ‘Hey, we’re gonna paint you blue.’ And I’m like ‘okay.’ And then from there, they kept painting me blue. I still didn’t know how big my role was. I just kept performing to the best of my ability each and every single time.
Honestly, I took the character very personally. I was told that my role was the prince’s- or Simba’s subconscious, to lead and guide him through the different stages of life. So I took that role as the blue man being the subconscious of Stephen Ojo, being my subconscious, to guide me and lead me through the stages of life. This is a stage of life that I needed to be guided through. That’s why every time they asked me to perform, I was always going hard because this is a new chapter of my life. This is a game-changer in my life.”
He then stated how tedious the process was of painting his body blue every day. Sometimes the color would be too dark or too bright all depending on who painted him. He also stressed the importance of the painting to make sure that his character was consistent throughout the entire film.
“Sometimes I’ll think I’ve gotten all the paint off my body snd I’ll go to bed, wake up and I see paint on my bed. So it was always a spot I didn’t get. But, it was all part of the experience. And I’m happy to experience every part of that journey”, he stated.