In the music video for creative polymath Janelle Monae‘s PYNK, Dutch director Emma Westenberg conjures up a candy-colored hyper-femme desert wonderland (or Wondaland?) for Monae and actress Tessa Thompson to revel in. At the time of post, the video has racked up an impressive nearly 3 million views.

PYNK, the lastest “emotion picture” off of her forthcoming album “Dirty Computer”, is a queer-as-hell celebration of the beauty and power of women, featuring a girl gang that we’re jealous to not be a part of, some suggestive uses of grapefruits & doughnuts, and of course…vagina pants. Yep, that wasn’t a typo. Vagina Pants.



In our exclusive conversation with the Partizan-signed director, she chatted with us about her vision for the video, working with Monae and her team, and getting chased by a swarm of bees while shooting.



What was the process for coming up with the initial idea for this video?

The video is part of a longer story, every song on the album has a video and together they form the emotional picture album, Dirty Computer. The storyline is a creation of Wondaland, from which we developed the visuals together. 



How did you and Janelle work together to realize your collective vision for PYNK? 

In developing the video, Janelle, her Wondaland team and choreographer Jemel Williams and I worked very closely. Starting at first by sending treatments back and forth and later, stopping the dance rehearsals, and finally on set.  It was really a wonderful collaboration. 



Tell us about the shoot, any unique challenges it posed, and any interesting stories from set. 

The shoot was actually quite flawless, apart from a swarm of bees hunting us during shooting the scene at the pool. It was truly unique for me as a director to work with such an amazing artist as Janelle. Like everything she does, she looks amazing and has so much personality. 



What are your favorite elements of the final product?

Let’s start with the vagina pants, also because one of my best friends from Amsterdam designed them, and he was on set too, which was great. Also the edit, by Deji La Ray, came out really good. The rhythm is amazing. And the dancing!! 



What are your thoughts on the Free The Bid mission and the need to open up opportunity for women directors?

I’m all here for it! More diversity is something that always has to be worked for! 


Director:  Emma Westenberg
Producer:  Justin Benolio
Producer:  Whitney Jackson
AD:  Giovanni Cotto-Ortiz
DOP: Oliver Millar
Choreographer:  Jemel Williams
Stylist: Alexandra Mandelkorn
Production Designer: Emma Rose Mead
Editor:  Deji LaRay
Colorist: Sophie Borup / Co 3 NY