Janelle Monáe talks about Black Lives Matter, the impact of her song “Turntables” and her wish for more films and television shows that to portray Black happiness.
Janelle, 34, graced the latest cover of Out magazine, and during her cover interview, she first discussed the impact of her thought-provoking 2020 Academy Awards awards performance in which she supported Black Lives Matter, called out the dismissal of women directors, and celebrated the LGBTQIA community.
“[There are] so many people who have graced stages, who are out protesting and who are fighting to have their voices heard. I just happened to have a mic,” Monáe said to the outlet. “To get on that stage and do anything other than that would not have felt right to my spirit.”
During quarantine, the Kansas City, Ks. native says the current events happening in the world helped inspired some of the ideas behind “Turntables.” “We are in the middle of watching tables turn, boomerangs booming back, and the rooster coming home to roost,” she said. “White supremacy and racism, and those who abuse their power, we’re seeing the people tearing it down…to see something new. ‘Turntables’ is just adding energy to the movement. There’s a lot of fatigue emotionally around protesting, around going online and asking people to vote, or asking people to sign a petition. There’s fatigue that happens, but we’re not giving up.”
The singer-songwriter said that as an actor, she’d like to see more shows and films that depict Black people being happy. “My hope is that we can continue to showcase the spectrum of storytelling around Black voices, and around Black human beings, stories that humanize us. We can go beyond trauma, showing how powerful we are as Black people to persevere through trauma. I’m ready to see us in the past, the present, the future truly experiencing joy on screen and what it means to just exist.”
Monáe then talked about her journey, being a queer woman in the public eye. “I knew because of my art, I would have to talk about these things,” she said. “So that put more pressure on me. The most important thing was me having conversations with my family. It was important that my family be reintroduced, not to the little girl they grew up knowing that they called ‘pumpkin’ or they knew was into this or into that, but they knew who I was today — that they knew that I was a free-ass motherfucker.”
While a celebrity, Monáe says she still a human – a human who doesn’t want to share everything with the world regardless of her fame. “I don’t talk about who I’m dating. That’s not anybody’s business,” she said. “There are certain things that I feel artists, human beings should not feel pressured to talk about.” Monáe says she hopes that when people “talk about their sexuality and being queer, being gay, or being who they are, they can talk about it, not out of fear, but out of love and celebration for who they are. If people look at me as that beacon of hope, that’s great, but I always tell people don’t feel any pressure to be me. Take your time.”