This is America

Bakersfield siblings Devin Penn, far left, and Trinity Penn, second from right, perform in Childish Gambino's "This is America" music video.

Via Vevo

This week, much of the nation was abuzz discussing "This is America," the timely and cultural reference-packed music video from Childish Gambino. Amid the provocative narrative created by the rap alter ego of actor-comedian Donald Glover, a quintet of uniformed schoolchildren fiercely dance alongside the performer, distracting from the chaos that surrounds them.

And don't be surprised if two of those young dancers look familiar. Bakersfield siblings Trinity and Devin Penn landed plum roles in both the video and the live TV performance on last week's "Saturday Night Live" episode featuring the musician. 

"It was like once-in-a-lifetime experience for them," said Michelle Penn, the dancers' mother. "They were completely blown away."

Choreographed by Rwandan dancer Sherrie Silver, the video has got people talking not only for the dancing but its commentary on race, violence and the entertainment industry in the U.S.

Silver told Glamour magazine that the choreography, featuring at least 10 dances including the South African Gwara Gwara, incorporated much of the dancers' natural movement.

"It was important for this video to have a lot of feeling; Donald really wanted a lot of looseness and personality in it," Silver told the magazine.

Penn was not at liberty to share details about her children's experience with the performer but said this was a career high point for Trinity, 19, and Devin, 14.

"I'm blown away. They are doing something I could never do," Michelle said. "It's like watching their dreams come true."

Both grew up dancing — Trinity at age 4, Devin at 2 — taught by their father, Ephraim Penn, at their family-run dance studio, Penn Point Dance Academy in Bakersfield. 

Along with performing, the teens are also instructors, teaching hip-hop classes at the local dance studio. 

"Their dad taught them as kids, and now they are doing the same thing with our kids at the studio," Michelle said. "They are so passionate about what they do that they only want to share it."

This isn't the first time Trinity has made an appearance on the big screen. She performed in "Fuller House" and with Missy Elliot on VH1, according to her mother. 

Both Devin and Trinity want a future in entertainment and will continue to pursue roles both in dance and acting, says Michelle. 

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