This artist/actress has made a name for herself in both the music and film industry. She's also been an advocate for the LGBTQ community, especially for young people dealing with oppression and identity issues. And that's why we're raising a glass to our Pride Month highlighted performer of the day, Janelle Monáe.
How You Know Her
Because she began her career as a musician, most people probably know her for her music. She had a variety of popular songs, some that earned her a couple Grammy nominations including "Many Moons" and "Tightrope." And she was even featured in the hit song "We Are Young" by Fun. She was also nominated in various categories for her albums "The ArchAndroid," "Some Nights," and "Dirty Computer." And she won the Rising Star Award in 2013 and Trailblazer of the Year in 2018 for Billboard Women in Music.
Even more recently, Janelle Monáe’s Oscar shortlisted song “Turntables” from the documentary film "All In: The Fight for Democracy" received a nomination from the Hollywood Music In Media Awards.
As for her filmography, Monáe starred in Oscar-nominated films "Hidden Figures" and "Harriet" as well as Oscar-winning film "Moonlight." She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress by the Critics' Choice Awards for her work on "Hidden Figures." And she was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for "Harriet" and Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for "Antebellum" during the NAACP Image Awards.
Finally, if you haven't recognized her by now, she stars in the television series "Homecoming" in which she received a nomination for Outstanding Actress, Drama Series from the Black Reel TV Awards.
Her Life So Far
Monáe grew up in a working-class community in Kansas City, Kansas. Her dream was to be a singer and a performer ever since she was young. She was raised Baptist and her family members play music and perform at the local church along with other churches. This influence was something that encouraged her to learn to sing at her local church as well.
When Monáe entered her teen years she enrolled in the Coterie Theater's Young Playwrights' Round Table. That's when she began writing musicals. After high school, she went straight to New York City to study musical theater. She attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. After enrolling, she realized that she was the only black woman in her class.
As the years went on, she gained popularity and success from her music. Her career began to take off in 2006 when she was discovered by Sean Combs (aka P. Diddy). Quickly after, she signed to his label, Bad Boy Records. After years of being in the industry, she booked her first movie gig in 2014 voicing veterinarian Dr. Monáe in the animated film "Rio 2."
From there, she booked the roles for her two most popular films "Moonlight" and "Hidden Figures." She made her big screen acting debut as the supporting character Teresa in "Moonlight," which came out in October 2016. Soon after, she found herself in another supporting role for "Hidden Figures" in December 2016. Both of her films were nominated for Best Picture with "Moonlight" ultimately earning the Academy Award win. Since then, she's had luck getting roughly a couple roles every year.
The Movie to See
Though it didn't win the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2016, we're going to recommend "Hidden Figures" as our choice. As we celebrate Janelle Monáe today for Pride Month, we're trying to highlight the roles that she's taken that have empowered her and others. There's no question that her performance in "Moonlight" absolutely deserves recognition. But her display in "Hidden Figures" is one that empowers many different groups of people. There's one scene in the film when society's rules and regulations have forced her into a corner. She wants to be an engineer at NASA. But she needs to take a class at an all-white school to be eligible. She pleads her case in court that she has no choice but to be the first. The first woman to go to an all-white school so that she can live her dream of working as an engineer at NASA.
What's Up Next
The most recent announcement that we're super excited about is that Monáe will be joining the cast of filmmaker Rian Johnson's much anticipated "Knives Out 2."
Jesse is a writer and content manager for Noovie. When he's not working, he's on the beach playing volleyball.