The creator of the online platform and marketplace Black Owned Everything now has a Black Owned Emmy! Zerina Akers, who has long been identified as the expert curatorial eye behind Beyoncé’s wardrobe (in addition to stints styling Ava DuVernay, Yara Shahidi, and Niecy Nash, among others) is now getting well-deserved flowers for her onscreen work. On Wednesday, it was announced that the style star, along with Bey’s longtime tailor Timothy White, had earned a 2021 Emmy for Outstanding Costumes for a Variety, Nonfiction or Reality Program, for her incredible work on 2020's Black Is King.
Inarguably, the wardrobe was one of the many stars in the film accompaniment to Lion King: The Gift. In addition to over 60 outfits worn by Beyoncé alone, Akers, White and the styling team outfitted the film’s extensive cast, which memorably included Jay-Z, the Carter children, Tina Knowles-Lawson, Kelly Rowland, Naomi Campbell, Donald Glover, Lupita Nyong’o and a number of other guest stars, in addition to dozens of dancers and extras. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter following the film’s release last year on Disney+, Akers estimated costuming a cast of 70 for the “Mood 4 Eva” segment alone.
Speaking on the inspiration behind the opulent looks throughout (which she revisited on August 2 with a post celebrating the film’s first anniversary), Akers told THR:
I wanted to take these stereotypes that are often portrayed with Black people, whether it be of African descent or in the diaspora, of how we represent luxury and how we project luxury and opulence. They maybe call people ignorant for wanting to wear a gold chain or wanting to kind of overdo it. Wealth looks very different in Black and white, and it really ties back to the decadence in many African cultures.
If Black Is King was groundbreaking, Akers’ win is, as well; she is only the second Black woman to win this particular award in Emmy history, following costume designer Dana Campbell’s 2006 win for Dancing With the Stars. Akers acknowledged as much in response to the news, keeping her gratitude short and sweet as she captioned a post: “Emmy Award Winning Hoodrat. ???????????? ???? Existing beyond my wildest dreams.”