Janelle Monáe is a force to be reckoned with, even beyond the entertainment sphere. In recognition of the non-binary musician’s continued philanthropy and powerful messaging of being your authentic self, Monáe received the Trailblazer Award at the 40th annual Outfest Legacy Awards.
“I feel like I’m at my church tonight,” Monáe told the audience in her acceptance speech, taking the stage in an all-leather outfit with a tipped black hat. “I feel like I am in church and I am with people that feel me and see me and understand me… I’m just deeply humbled and just so thankful and at a loss for real words to match my feelings. So just accept my thank you. Thank you so much.”
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Outfest is an annual celebration catered to the LGBTQ community in the film and television industry, which features live performances from musical guests, special appearances from esteemed creators and recognition for influential changemakers in Hollywood.
Simultaneous to pursuing a music career, Monáe is set to star in Netflix’s “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” the sequel to 2019’s “Knives Out” from director Rian Johnson. Johnson welcomed Monáe on stage to accept the award at the Oct. 22 ceremony, prefacing with kind words about the recording artist’s remarkable accomplishments.
“It’s not shocking to me that she’s getting this award, because you know, if I open up the dictionary in my brain and look up the word ‘trailblazer,’ it’s just like a whole single-page spread of Janelle’s face,” Johnson said. “She’s a beacon of living free and out loud and what that looks like and she wants that for other people too. She walks the walk.”
Presented by IMDb and Genesis, the event took place at Paramount Studios.
Glamazon, a volunteer-based network of diverse Amazon employees and allies, was also awarded the Guardian Award, and Outfest’s deputy director, Kerri Stoughton-Jackson, was honored with the Jonathan Howard Award.
“Visibility is important for the next generation to see; like, ‘I have community, I have people putting in real effort to make sure that I’m seen, that I’m heard, that I’m present,’” Monáe reflected on the carpet, speaking to the activism of the night’s honorees and Outfest as an organization. “I think that we obviously have a lot of work to continue to do, but the work they’ve done over the last 40 years, that’s a big deal.”
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