Janelle Monáe Robinson (/dʒəˌnɛl moʊˈneɪ/; born December 1, 1985) is an American singer, songwriter, rapper, actress, and producer. She is signed to Atlantic Records, as well as her own imprint, the Wondaland Arts Society.
Monáe’s musical career began in 2003 when she released a demo album titled The Audition. In 2007, she publicly debuted with a conceptual EP titled Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase). It peaked at number two on the US Top Heatseekers chart, and in 2010, through Bad Boy Records, Monáe released her first full-length studio album, The ArchAndroid, a concept album and sequel to her first EP.
In 2011, Monáe was featured as a guest vocalist on fun.‘s single “We Are Young“, which achieved major commercial success, topping the charts of over ten countries and garnering Monáe a wider audience. Her second studio album, The Electric Lady, was released in 2013 and debuted at number five on the Billboard 200, serving as the fourth and fifth installments of her seven-part Metropolis concept series.
In 2016, Monáe made her theatrical film debut in two high-profile productions; she starred in Hidden Figures as NASA mathematician and aerospace engineer Mary Jackson, and also starred in Moonlight. Hidden Figures was a box office success, while Moonlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture at the 89th annual ceremony.
Monáe’s third studio album, Dirty Computer, also described as a concept album, was released in 2018 to widespread critical acclaim; it was chosen as the best album of the year by several publications and earned Monáe two nominations at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. The album debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 and was further promoted by Monáe’s Dirty Computer Tour, which lasted from June–August 2018.
During a 2011 interview with London Evening Standard, Monáe said that she “only dates androids”, a reference to her musical alter-ego found in many of her songs. She also said, “I speak about androids because I think the android represents the new ‘other’. You can compare it to being a lesbian or being a gay man or being a black woman… what I want is for people who feel oppressed or feel like the ‘other’ to connect with the music and to feel like, ‘She represents who I am.'” She added that she would talk about her sexual orientation “in due time”. In 2013, Monáe stated that she wants both men and women to “still be attracted to [her]” and expressed support for the LGBTQ community.
Monáe has since stated that she identifies with both bisexuality and pansexuality. On January 10, 2020, she came out as non-binary via Twitter. The tweet included the hashtag #IAmNonbinary, which trended on Twitter that day.