It’s no secret that I am a very, very big Janelle Monae fan. Her music just makes me want to get up and boogie, and her style is awesome. (I wish I looked that cool in a suit.) This April, she’s making her big screen debut . . . in Rio 2! Did you see the first Rio movie? It was pretty funny, and I’m definitely glad there’s a sequel! We were super-fortunate to get this interview with the singer (and now voice actress). Check it out!
Q: In Rio 2, were you the voice of a character or are you singing in the movie?
Janelle: I’m doing both. I’m the voice of a character, and I don’t want to tell you which one! I also wrote the opening song for the movie. I’m really excited to have worked with so many amazing actors. I got a chance to work with Jamie Foxx and Anne Hathaway. I got a chance to produce them and get their vocals on the song that I wrote!
Q: Is it easier than performing or acting, or is it harder?
Janelle: No, it’s all the same. When I’m on stage, you know, I have to get in a different mindset. No matter what I’m going through during the day, when I touch down on stage I go into character. So I do the same thing in a movie.
Q: Your music is so creative. How did you develop your own genre?
Janelle: Well, I allow myself to grow and I tell myself that there’s nothing that I can’t do. I love creating music. I love finding out my strengths and working on any weaknesses. And I never want to tell myself that, you know, I can’t do a specific style. I was blessed with a voice. I get bored very easily as well, so I’m always discovering new things and learning. I love learning. I love challenging myself. I love collaborating with different people from different walks of life!
Q: What was your favorite subject when you were in school?
Janelle: It was English. English, definitely! In high school I had an amazing teacher, Mrs. Appleberry, and her style of teaching made me want to come to class every single day. I would go home and just write and write and write. I would write short stories, and actors would perform them and, you know, I took that love of writing and turned it into my first album.
Q: Are you involved in any sort of environmental causes?
Janelle: One of my goals this year is to do more planting. And I mean that literally! I plan on planting more seeds and growing more trees and nurturing more green. But I want to also plant more seeds of hope and positivity throughout the world, whether it is by helping someone else get their career off the ground or starting a nonprofit.
Interview by Marie Morreale