Without question, two of the most influential brands in the world are Black women. Their names? Beyoncé and Rihanna.
When their solo careers first took off in the early aughts, both accomplished mononymous stars were strictly music girls releasing radio-ready pop singles that whizzed up the charts. Plus, they dropped landmark music videos we’ll never forget. But as they’ve matured over the last decade, they’ve extended into farther reaches of entertainment, expanding the entire atmosphere of show business by utilizing technology. And as a result, they’ve used the resources at their disposal to uplift Black women with every innovation.
Major Music & Streaming Moves
As she typically is, Beyoncé was the first to drop a significantly impactful surprise album back in 2013. Her bold self-titled visual album, “BEYONCÉ” — a 14-track offering with 17 accompanying videos released exclusively to Apple Music — made the world stop long before streaming platforms were the behemoth they are today. After four studio albums, the hour-long tour de force solidified her as a marketing guru ahead of her time while teaching Black feminism, sexual agency, and self-image.
Not long after Beyoncé shifted the music business’s whole rollout strategy, she partnered with network giant HBO to exclusively stream the 2016 music film, “Lemonade.” This time, her genre-bending opus was a definitive cultural phenomenon that explored the Black female experience in America, from love to deep-rooted ancestry to spiritual practice of West Indian and African cultures.
Likewise, Beyoncé’s “Homecoming,” a concert film centered on her 2018 performance at Coachella—in which she was the first Black woman headliner—illuminated Black collegiate culture and history as she paid homage to Toni Morrison, Nina Simone, Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde, and Marian Wright Edelman, among other Black female greats, throughout the compelling, cinematic work.
“As a black woman, I used to feel like the world wanted me to stay in my little box, and black women often feel underestimated,” Beyoncé said. “I wanted us to be proud of not only the show but the process, proud of the struggle, thankful for the beauty that comes with a painful history and rejoices in the pain or the imperfections and the wrongs that are so damn right.”
To date, Queen Beyoncé’s striking visual experience, “Black Is King,” which exclusively streams on Disney Plus, has been the ultimate love letter to the legacy and divinity of Blackness with “Brown Skin Girl” serving a specific tribute to Black women.
Revolutionary Beauty & Fashion Reign
Rihanna has, at once, boosted Black women into the spotlight with her own ventures. In 2017, she signaled a new direction of her career with “ANTI” and, a year later, launched Fenty Beauty, for which she incorporated ground-breaking technology to offer an inclusive, never-before range of foundation shades for women of color.
“I never could have anticipated the emotional connection that women are having with the products and the brand as a whole,” Rihanna told TIME. “Some are finding their shade of foundation for the first time, getting emotional at the counter. That’s something I will never get over.”
With each launch of a new collection or product, Rih’s skillful use of social media or virtual tools has only elevated consumers’ experience with her brand. For instance, the Fenty Beauty team created a Facebook filter to allow potential customers to try on the cult-favorite Killawatt highlighter in Trophy Wife. RiRi and her team also deployed an augmented reality virtual try-on filter for its Mattemoiselle lipstick line launch. And for the release of Cheeks Out Freestyle—a collection of cream blushes and bronzers—they lived streamed virtual makeup tutorials.
It’s stunts like these that give her fans the option to make the right choice for their skin tone, encouraging them to feel beautiful in their skin.
Of course, to the dismay of some fans, Rihanna—the First Black Woman to Head a Luxury Brand for LVMH—is laser-focused on growing her beauty and fashion empire, which now also includes FENTY, Fenty Skin, and Savage x Fenty. Still, she manages to use tech to her advantage with each new entity and make Black women feel included and seen.
Her latest move? The epic Savage x Fenty Show Vol. 2—a dazzling showcase of her new lingerie collection is now exclusively streaming on Amazon Prime. Celebrities of all sizes were highlighted, including Normani, Lizzo, Willow Smith, and Indya Moore.
Fundamentally, both Beyoncé and Rihanna have dedicated their careers to Black women. And it’s safe to say these two powerhouse creators will continue to uplift and progress Black women’s community by bending technology to their will.