Janelle Monáe, A storyteller who has broken the mould and come out on top
Born to Stand Out
Kansas-born Janelle Monáe has always been one to break gender stereotypes, from her fashion sense to the roles that she has played on the big screen.
Her black and white outfits, amazing dance moves and majestic voice are what made the world take note of this petite singer. Her first two big hits, ‘Tightrope’ in 2010 and a collaboration with the group Fun. on the song ‘We Are Young’ in 2011 saw her step into the spotlight and never leave.
Her hit single, ‘Tightrope’ was a result of working with two industry greats: Big Boi from OutKast and Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs. Together with Janelle, the two took their time to develop the young artist and this led to a career that would earn the singer eight Grammy nominations, two Soul Train Music awards and many more.
Since establishing her place in the music business, Janelle spread her wings and starred in some movies. Her role in the box office hit Hidden Figures saw her play Mary Jackson, a strong-willed woman who aspired to be an engineer, but found that career closed to her because of her race.
Janelle says she didn’t know who Mary Jackson was. ‘I was upset when I was reading the script, but I was also proud and excited that, finally, we’re going to have some true, new American heroes that just so happen to be black women.’ This role earned her a BET nomination for Best Actress.
Janelle’s style has consistently been on trend. Her black-and-white ensembles, hats, and recent monochrome looks have made her one to watch. She turned heads at the recent Paris Fashion Week in February in a monochrome red look that cemented her position as an icon in this era of fashion.
Her Grammy performance this year saw her bring out the much-talked-about pink pants from her ‘PYNK’ music video. It was this very same video that started a conversation about her sexuality and relationship with actress and singer Tessa Thompson (they’re not dating).
More than Music
Her iconic status is not limited to her music, acting or fashion. Janelle has been a force to be reckoned with in the activism sphere as well. In 2016, Janelle performed at a concert in the city of Flint in Michigan to express solidarity and raise money for the city’s recent water crisis.
Her coming out to the public as a pansexual in Rolling Stone was a moment worth noting in her career. Janelle spoke about how she initially identified as bisexual, but upon hearing about pansexuality, she thought, ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too.’
Like many artists, Janelle has used her music as a tool for spreading her message. She released a song in 2015 called ‘Hell You Talmbout’ that features the names of several black men and women who have been killed by police officers and as a result of the problem of police violence in the USA.
Janelle’s career has been anything but ordinary and we can’t wait to see what else the star has to offer in years to come.
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