As Josephine Baker, Keri Hilson is filmed in black and white. She plays peek-a-boo with the camera as the title cards reflect the action. She performs her cabaret act on stage, fluffing her fur and wearing a bodysuit. Starting out in vaudeville, she would later become the first black triple threat: actress, singer and dancer.
Next, as Dorothy Dandridge she stars in the film “My Name Is Keri.” She swings her arms from right to left. She sits on a bench and smells the beautiful flower. She was one of the first black actresses and the originator of the role of Carmen Jones.
Moving towards color, Hilson is now a USO girl, performing for the troops. Across the screen, the words “beautiful” and “rock” are embossed with stars.
On a golden stage, dressed in a white, one-shouldered gown with a cut-out, she is Diana Ross. The Supremes were seen by millions on television. Before Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child, there was Diana Ross and the Supremes. Their success and documented problems within the group inspired a musical (“Dreamgirls”) and a movie (“Sparkle”).
Changing to a blue background, with silver ringlets hung from the stage, she is Donna Summer, singing one of her acclaimed disco hits. She helped to popularize the producer Giorgio Morodor and still remained a pop culture fixture in the 80s, after disco had fizzled.
In the 80s, she is Janet Jackson in her “Rhythm Nation” video, expressing an end to racism and unity. It was one of Jackson’s many signature moments and the first of her to state her politics.
Against an olive-green background, she is T-Boz, one of the three members of TLC, in the music video for “Creep,” wearing a light blue silk pajama outfit. TLC was one of the most successful acts in the 90s. Even with a hiatus, they still had huge hits well into the early 2000s.
In a black background, wearing a white t-shirt and jeans, with a pair of headphones around her neck, she is herself, singing along the music. All the icons get a shot in between.
Starting to the left of the screen with Baker, all the icons get one final moment. She smiles in her shot, grateful for the women who paved the way for her.
All the women shown had influence and left a legacy that would inspire millions of other women in various ways. For Keri Hilson, this is her way of saying thank you and acknowledging that without them, her career wouldn’t exist.
For the modern women, the Janet Jackson chosen is by far, the best one. Usually when people think of her, it’s for “Pleasure Principle.” But here, she gets credit for speaking up about a subject that today, could cause controversy. It’s a powerful video that aims to celebrate, not imitate, great women of color in the past.
Director: Joseph Kahn Year: 2010
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