Janelle Monáe on Her Roles in ‘Moonlight’ & ‘Hidden Figures’

*Singer/actress Janelle Monáe has two breakout roles in Golden Globe-nominated “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures,” and when she appeared at an AOL Build last recently, among other things, she opened up to host Ricky Camilleri about taking time off from music to make movies this year.

“I knew both of these films were bigger than Janelle Monáe. I knew that humanity needed this work. These are films that celebrate ‘the other’ — the person who’s often discriminated against because of their race, their gender or sexual identity,” she told Camilleri. “I want[ed] to make sure that I give it my all so I did have to take a break from recording to get in the mindset of Teresa and Ms. Mary Jackson. I had to do extensive research and it took up a lot of my time but it’s worth it when you talk about celebrating the often times uncelebrated.”

Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monae attends the "Hidden Figures" New York Special Screening on December 10, 2016 in New York City.

Monáe has been working on her next album for four years, and said roles in each film inspired her artistry, per Huff Post.

“It’s just exciting to go into these roles and you take a piece of those characters with you and I definitely have done that,” she said. “I feel more convicted about certain messages that I’ve wanted to push forward, certain sounds. It made me put a lot of things into perspective. I feel like there’s a lot at stake for women, for minorities and when I think about our future, I do feel as though I have a responsibility — an even bigger responsibility — to bring people together and I think music does that.”

“Moonlight” was chosen by American Film Institute as one of the top ten films of 2016, and has been nominated for numerous awards, including Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay and Best Original Score.

Octavia Spencer earned  a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her “Hidden Figures” role. The story follows African American scientist and mathematicians who, despite segregation, helped NASA launch the Mercury space program. Composers Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams and Benjamin Wallfisch were also nominated for their original score.


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