Beyoncé's Black Is King film set the entire world ablaze when it debuted last month. The visual album was a stunning tribute to the African diaspora and Black beauty from start to finish. For eighty-five minutes, we were glued to the screen—captivated by BIK’s cinematography, soundtrack, wardrobe, and of course, the beauty looks. The visual album was filled with so many iconic moments that have inspired people around the world to create their own variations of the looks. New York-based nail artist Gracie J is among this group. Gracie J—who was the lead nail stylist for TNT’s hit series CLAWS—brought Black Is King to life in her own way via a five-part nail series.
For her, the film was so powerful and illuminating that she’s watched it five times (and counting). “As someone who strives to showcase Black culture in a positive light, it was cool to see someone doing exactly that on a bigger platform. It really sets the standards for others to do the same,” she says. “I've always said how important it is for us to be the narrators to our own stories because historically our beauty, our contributions to mainstream culture, and our presence wasn't narrated by us and we weren't being portrayed in the ways we know us to be.”
While all of the eye-catching looks in Black Is King are worth recreating, Gracie J decided to draw inspiration from five memorable visuals for her nail series. “As I watched Black Is King, I took shots of all the looks that I could possibly translate to nail art and the ones that inspired me the most,” she says. “There is so much inspiration that can be pulled from the film. I literally wanted to recreate the entire film in nail art.”
Take a closer look at the five "Black Is King" nail looks Gracie J designed below.
Set to the soundtrack of “Nile,” Gracie J shows off her green and white nails in this video. She accented this set with beautiful gold nail accessories.
Inspired by the green body paint Beyoncé adorned while singing “Find Your Way Back,” Gracie J created this shimmery green nail set. The gemstones on her middle and ring finger add to this look’s luxe feel.
"People often underestimate the amount of work that goes into either doing nails or creating press-ons. I put a lot of intention, time, conceptualizing, and resources into my work," Gracie J tells Byrdie. And this set is a prime example of all of that. Beyoncé’s upbeat track “Mood 4 Eva" led Gracie J to conceptualize this innovative spinning rim pinky nail.
Creating the visuals for this floral mani was a labor of love. Gracie J created a mini projector from scratch to recreate Beyoncé’s motorbike scene. “The mini projector alone took me 3-4 hours to put together," she says. "I wanted to showcase the nails in ways that are not typically used to highlight nail art."
The moment in the video for “Already” where Beyonce wore a horned headdress—a style from the Dinka and Mursi tribes—while perched atop a horse served as inspiration for this fifth nail look. The brown, black, and white tones used in this nail set were a direct ode to that scene.