In This Issue
EBONY's March 2023 cover star Janelle Monáe is a true connoisseur of the arts and culture. Throughout her career, she has stepped into various opportunities that have allowed her to flex her capacity to otherworldly creative endeavors. The initiatives that she has attached herself to and amplified have not only served her artistic purposes but are executed with the intent to move communities and culture forward with an added emphasis of Afrofuturism and STEM.
Below are a several examples of Monáe's most creative moves.
A Voice for the (Android) People
Janelle Monáe has been in the music games since 2005 and has left an impact only she could make. Each of Monáe's albums—Metropolis, The ArchAndroid, The Electric Lady and Dirty Computer—uniquely conceptualizes Afrofuturism as a means to imagine an inclusive and funkier world.
Employing her alter-ego Cyndi Mayweather and the world of androids that she's envisioned, the "Q.U.E.E.N" singer promotes ideals that are near and dear to her through her lyrics. She also uses her voice as a vessel for activism and makes an extremely conscious effort to educate her audience.
Welcome to Wondaland Arts Society
The Wondaland Arts Society is a communal hub for creatives that centers storytelling through the mediums of music, art, fashion and more. Artists such as Jidenna and Roman GianArthur are signed under the Wondaland Records moniker, which launched in 2015 under an Epic Records partnership.
As CEO of the Wondaland Arts Society, Monáe streamlines a multitude of endeavors. She's also released several individual projects along with collective projects including the Wondaland Presents: The Eephus album.
Expanding the Dirty Computer Universe
Monáe has one of the most inventive and expansive minds around. As her artistry and daily work is rooted in creative and physical liberation of people, she's channeled this through building the Dirty Computer universe and writing a collection of essays called The Memory Librarian. In conjunction with other authors of color, they designed a narrative that speaks to and challenges elements of "censorship, history and access to individualist thought."
In a 2022 interview with EBONY, she shared, "The Memory Librarian is from the same soil as [my 2018 album] Dirty Computer. I always knew I had more to say and I knew that there were more characters to develop from the project."
Moonlight, Hidden Figures, Knives Out: Glass Onion and Beyond
Over the past decade, Monáe has showcased her acting chops in a variety of different works such as the Oscar award-winning film Moonlight, Hidden Figures, Antebellum and Harriet. Most recently, her acting and comedic prowess has been on display in Netflix's Knives Out: Glass Onion, a film which has been garnering a lot of award season buzz for its cleverness and ensemble cast.
She's the Ultimate Cover Girl
When she first hit the scene, she donned a crisp uniform that let us all know what she was about. In 2012, Monáe brought her individual swag to the Cover Girl family as the brand's new face. The creative access she had in this role allowed her to be a force for representation and bringing to the forefront a diverse method of self-expression.