It is a holiday. If you didn’t know before, now you know. As she said on the lead-in to her iconic track “Get Me Bodied,” Beyoncé was born on “9 …. 4 … 8 … 1.” And that my dear friends, means it’s time for celebration.
Among the celebrants is one Kalen Allen, who shot to fame through his YouTube channel KalenReacts. On the channel, Allen watches people follow wacky recipes and, as the name suggests, reacts to them. The viral videos, and Allen’s hard work, landed him a slot as a longstanding correspondent on The Ellen Show. But his latest video venture is of a different variety, celebrating the one and only Beyoncé.
In an almost eight minute video, released today, Allen recreates some of the Queen’s most iconic moments. “To my muse and biggest inspiration!” he wrote on Twitter when sharing the clip — ok, this is a full-out production. “Happy birthday Beyoncé!”
Filmed over the span of two days, and produced by Allen himself, the tribute features him cycling through quite a number of Beyoncé eras. After kicking off wearing the iconic, now 16-year-old, t-shirt and jean shorts look from her breakout hit “Crazy In Love,” Allen channels the Homecoming performer for songs like “Naughty Girl,” “Déjà Vu,” and even “Ring the Alarm.” And yes, there’s a bit of choreography.
“I actually think I gained so much more respect for Beyoncé and her craft but also her team,” Allen tells Out of the project. “I had a team of 10 and it was still a lot of work.” That team not only included onscreen talent like backup dancers and a hair and makeup person who makes touch-up cameos, but a DJ in Sweden named Robin Scouteris who remixed Bey tracks for the project. And of course there was Julian Roca who directed.
“I was in heels for 12 hours for two days and had to keep going no matter how bad my feet hurt,” Allen says. And boy did he. As the video progresses, it seems so does the difficulty level with Allen incorporating more choreography as well as props; that scene from “Formation” where Beyoncé hangs out the window of a moving car … yeah, got it.
“Beyoncé helped me discover my confidence, but also my femininity,” Allen says. “I admired her fierceness, strength, and power on stage. I wanted that for my life. She was my superhero!
“I also think as a Black woman she is constantly being made to prove herself and constantly gives so much of herself to us. I wanted to do this to say that I am so, so, so very proud of her and I wanted to give her her flowers.”
Obviously the footage includes Allen in drag to really underscore the recreation. And it’s not bad! It is not Miss Shalae of course, but it’ll do! There was an unlikely reaction though from some followers who seem to have unfollowed Kallen in the lead up to the video’s release, as he posted photos of himself in drag.
“I was very nervous to post the pictures because I was in drag and there were some negative responses, but very few,” he said. “That doesn’t bother me; I prefer for the trash to take itself out.”