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Janelle Monáe’s Future is Bright

With her new grassroots initiative and partnership with Belvedere, this superstar is looking to empower women across the globe

“You can still see my eyes, right?” Janelle Monáe is donning her signature tuxedo-style ensemble, paired with chic cherry-colored sunnies. The powerhouse activist, artist, businesswoman, and mogul is about to host an intimate dinner celebrating her partnership with Belvedere Vodka, but also more than that: the future. “What does a beautiful future look like to you?” This is the conversation that Belvedere and Monáe are striving to excite with Monáe’s grassroots initiative, called Fem the Future. “We want to bring more opportunities to women, trans women, and those who identify as such in music and film,” Monáe says of the partnership’s goal. The celebrated star has found massive success in both of those areas with her latest album, Dirty Computer, and films such as Moonlight and Hidden Figures. As her platform grows and her own voice becomes more and more influential, Monáe has made it her mission to shine the spotlight on others. “Sharing the mic. That’s what a beautiful future looks like,” she says. “It’s about giving those who are systemically marginalized an opportunity to voice the things they need to feel empowered.”

Monáe with chef and CEO LaForce Baker (left) and artist Amanda Williams at the Belvedere Vodka event.

Monáe’s demeanor is graceful, eloquent, and genuine. As she points to her limited edition Belvedere bottle, she notes that the layers on the label’s design are representative of the layers we have as human beings. “When we pull back our layers, we get the chance to show our authentic selves,” she says. “That can be inspiring for other people to uncover more of their truth.”

Whether one sees Monáe onstage, on-screen, or in person, she exudes an intoxicating confidence that allows her to share her voice and incite change, start conversations, and inspire others to do the same. “Oh, yes, I wake up like this every morning,” she says sarcastically of her self-confidence. “It can be a daily struggle for some of us, including myself. You have to actively choose to have confidence.” Monáe admits that she is able to speak so passionately and strongly about her work because she truly believes in every project and initiative she attaches herself to. “Belvedere knew of Fem the Future, and they wanted to know how they could support it and help support women in the entertainment industry,” she says of the partnership’s inception. From her perspective as a creative icon in the music industry, Monáe says she has never seen more women championing other women: “It is a really positive thing. You have some women who are helping evil men and being coconspirators with men who are abusing their power, but there are a lot of women who are about collaboration over competition, and I’m one of them.”

Monáe at the Belvedere Vodka event.

Outside of her film production company, Wondaland Arts Society, her Fem the Future project, a new role in the second season of Homecoming on Amazon Prime Video, her partnership with Belvedere—and more—Monáe says she does have a top priority for her ideal beautiful future. “I’m evolving as an artist and as a businesswoman. I don’t know what 2020 holds, but I’m focused on meeting interesting, like-minded folks and cultivating new ideas,” she says. “And figuring out how I can get as many people to register to vote as possible.”