Janelle Monae is covering Shape Magazine’s September issue highlighting strong women and looking S T U N N I N G while doing so.
Cindi Mayweather is making mouths drops in a series of Dana Scruggs shot photos. In one especially artsy pic, she recreates Sandro Botticelli’s 15th century The Birth of Venus painting.
A beautiful change-making black woman representing the goddess of love and beauty?
Janelle isn’t just slaying the photos, however, she also told veteran journalist Farai Chideya all about self-care, how she’s remaining healthy amid the pandemic, and about remaining passionate about activism by watching organizers like Sonya Renee Taylor, Kimberly Latrice Jones, and Tamika Mallory.
On her goal to help her community through activism:
“Being Black, especially during this time, for me, is heavy. It’s traumatic, and all I want to do is figure out how I can be of help to my community. So I’ve been spending a lot of time organizing behind the scenes with peers, with my Wondaland Arts Society [Monae’s company] family. We hosted a Zoom where everybody had an opportunity to get on and just vent and cry and talk about how we’re feeling. These were white folks, Asian folks, Black folks, straight, gay—like a full spectrum of people and perspectives.”
On her new film Antebellum that shines a light on racial injustice:
“I’ve made it a thing to face discomfort. I think discomfort is part of everyone’s reality right now. White people are feeling discomfort in one way, Black people are feeling discomfort in one way, and I didn’t want to shy away from that. It’s time for us to get uncomfortable, because the real change requires an upsetting and a rerouting and a real commitment to look at ourselves. In this instance, I hope that more white people see this film and fix the systems that their ancestors created that continue to oppress.”
On self-care that includes reading and enjoying a well-earned alcoholic beverage:
“I find James Baldwin books have been super helpful. Reading has been comforting. I’m an introvert. So I have to charge in my room, by myself, most times. And you would think, we already can social distance, so shouldn’t I want to be out? But I actually enjoy the solitude because I’ve been really going nonstop.
I think self-care is important, and it shifts with your growth. It used to be making sure that I take a vacation because I had been working 11 months out of the year. I needed time to play, to let my hair down, and run around naked. All of that is still important. And if I also want to drink, I’m drinking. You know what I’m saying?”
On staying active amid the pandemic.
“Being in quarantine, it’s been difficult for me to exercise because I like exercising when I don’t know I’m exercising. I love being onstage and dancing. I love going out dancing. I don’t like doing things in a gym.
But mental and physical health is a journey, not a destination. I don’t have to be the most thin person. My shape doesn’t have to be what you think it should be. I am on a journey, and the journey itself is the reward. The journey is the lesson.”
Photographer: Dana Scruggs, @danascruggs // Stylist: Alexandra Mandelkorn, @mandelkorn // Hair: Nikki Nelms, @nikkinelms // Makeup: Jessica Smalls, @JessicaSmalls // Set Stylist: Wooden-Ladder, @woodenladder // Creative Director: Noah Dreier, @noahdreier // Photo Director: Toni Loggia, @toniloggia
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