Ahead of the release of Shondaland’s highly anticipated prequel series, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, Netflix hosted a bouncing ball in New Orleans, Louisiana with queer recording artist Big Freedia.
The royal affair, titled the Spring Waltz, took place at Xavier University on April 19. Students arrived in their grand ballgowns and bedazzled waistcoats to make their grand entrance on the red carpet. Royalty from far and wide also came to represent and celebrate HBCUs royal culture. Netflix described the entire evening as “a love letter to royal culture.”
Though Big Freedia is no doubt the Queen of New Orleans and bounce music – a NOLA-based hip-hop genre that originated in the 80s – the heart of the evening undoubtedly goes to Miss Xavier herself, Nina Giddens. The openly queer woman led her court with confidence and class.
“Tonight we are celebrating Black royalty, we’re celebrating Black queens,” Giddens told Gayety on the red carpet. “Historically, Black women weren’t always seen as beautiful or intelligent or smart. And tonight, we’re not only seeing ourselves on the big screen, but in real life with these beautiful HBCU queens.
Bridgerton’s Queen Charlotte Series Will Tackle Race
The Bridgerton streaming series has been praised for bringing much-needed diversity and representation to the British period drama genre, and this new season is no exception. The Netflix show follows Queen Charlotte’s rise to prominence and power, and tells of how the young Queen’s marriage to King George sparked both a great love story and a societal shift, creating the world of the Ton inherited by the characters in Bridgerton. In other words, it fits perfectly with the evening theme: Black joy.
“To be able to see all of my identities represented on such a large streaming platform like Netflix means the world,” Giddens continued. “I am a queer black woman. And historically I have not seen any part of my identity represented. But now with series like Sex Education with series like Queen Charlotte with series like Bridgerton, I finally see myself and I cannot wait for the other young people that will see themselves represented on Netflix’s platform.”
Big Freedia echoed her sentiment. “It’s great that Netflix is expanding its horizon and working with all different walks of life…” she said. “And I’m here for the represent for New Orleans and for queens like myself who don’t have representation. So I’m here to represent them tonight and just do my absolute best.”
A Crown Fit for a Queen
With so many queens in the building, it seems only fitting that Netflix brought a royal crown to decorate Xavier University’s auditorium. But this was no ordinary crown. Surrounding the circular stage was a floral tiara rendered from the crown Queen Charlotte wears in the show. The 2000 pound-structure had more than 1,600 intricate beads and 160 metal-cut flowers.
The all-female Original Pinettes Brass Band performed first and wowed the crowd with their jazzy compositions and covers. XULA’s very own Gold Star Dance team, The Golden Starlettes, also shared the spotlight and got the audience moving for the final entertainer of the evening.
As Big Freedia stepped out, the student body rushed to the stage to see her set. The rapper kicked off the night with her recently released Bridgerton-themed “Hey Queen” New Orleans Bounce Remix. She released a music video earlier this month which featured appearances from the royal court at Xavier.
The evening was a great success and an excellent way to kick-off the new era of Bridgerton. Watch Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story on Netflix on May 4.
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