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Incredible Women

Woman of the week: Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monáe in a Christian Siriano suit at the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar afterparty

Prince’s former protégé is about to release Dirty Computer, her first studio album in five years. Here’s what you should know about this magnetic artist. By KASIA HASTINGS

Female power
The singer wore Dolce & Gabbana SS18 for the 218 Grammys, where she gave a rousing Time’s Up speech

Name: Janelle Monáe

Age: 32

Nationality: American

Occupation: Actor, singer, songwriter and record producer

Incredible moment

From her predominantly black and white wardrobe (which she says is in homage to her working-class background), to her unique brand of Afrofuturist and science fiction-infused R&B and pop, to her roles in Moonlight and Hidden Figures, Monáe has made a habit of making powerful political statements, and none timelier than her unequivocal Time’s Up speech at the 2018 Grammy Awards. During an evening which largely ignored female artists (women won just 11 of 84 awards), and notably shied away from discussing the #MeToo sexual misconduct movement, Monáe used her time on stage as a platform to address the discrimination and abuse faced by all women, not just in Hollywood. The activist offered a fittingly defiant and unifying address: “We come in peace, but we mean business.”

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Screen queens
Starring in the Oscar-nominated Hidden Figures alongside Taraji P. Henson

Vital stat

For her third concept album, Dirty Computer – following 2010’s The ArchAndroid and 2013’s Electric Lady – Monáe worked closely with Prince before his death in April 2016. In an interview with The Guardian, she said of his influence: “I wouldn’t be as comfortable with who I am if it had not been for Prince. I mean, my label Wondaland would not exist without Paisley Park coming before us… I dedicate a lot of my music to Prince, for everything he’s done for music and black people and women and men.”

She says

“To those who would dare try and silence us, we offer you two words: Time's Up. We say Time’s Up for pay inequality, Time’s Up for discrimination, Time’s Up for harassment of any kind, and Time’s Up for the abuse of power. Because, you see, it’s not just going on in Hollywood; it’s not just going on in Washington; it’s right here in our industry as well. And just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo the culture that does not serve us well. So, let’s work together, women and men, as a united music industry committed to creating more safe work environments, equal pay, and access for all women.”

They say

“Janelle is somebody who is interested in really empowering not just women, but people to be who they are in the full expression of who they are.” Tessa Thompson, Entertainment Tonight, 2018

Janelle Monáe’s new album Dirty Computer is out April 27

In good company
Monáe with friends Tessa Thompson, Stevie Wonder, Ava DuVernay, Lupita Nyong’o and Mary J. Blige

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