8. Janelle Monáe Rocks the Mic & the Screen
By Sydney Davenport
Janelle Monáe is a curious curator of artistic performances from her futuristic funk musical sounds or, most recently, from her powerhouse performances in the films Hidden Figures and Moonlight.
Though she had never acted onscreen before, she contributed to Hidden Figures winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture.
That both films were Oscar-nominated is a testament to the quality of work to which Monáe commits. Moonlight ultimately won the Oscar for best picture.
“I am moved by stories that humanize us,” Monáe said. “These films are universal stories told in unforgettable ways and they are bringing us together.”
Though Monáe isn’t talking about herself here, she has become someone who is bringing people together and paving a path of light into the future.
Raised in a working-class home in Kansas City with a father who struggled with drug addiction, Monáe has realized that a large part of herself, and her art, is shaped by the women who raised her.
“At some point, I realized that the true heart and glue of the community were the women. My mama and grandmama and my aunties and who to this day, are some of the most powerful beings on the planet,” Monáe said.
As a result, Monáe has put her heart into telling stories through her music and on screen. Between her two albums, “ArchAndroid” and “Electric Lady,” Monáe has six Grammy nominations and has collaborated with artists such as Erykah Badu, Prince, Outkast and Sean “Diddy” Combs. She will also perform in the “Autofac” episode of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, a series that debuts on Amazon on Jan. 12.
Monáe found a kinship in the marginalized, misrepresented and misunderstood, which resonates in the powerful voice she has found in herself.
Sydney Davenport is a writer based in Washington, D.C., and a frequent contributor to FierceforBlackWomen.com.