Penelope Cruz walks in final Lagerfeld show

Actress Penelope Cruz walks in Karl Lagerfeld’s final collection for Chanel with Kristen Stewart, Janelle Monae and more sitting front row. (March 5)

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Cruz, Monae, remember Lagerfeld

At Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel swansong, Penelope Cruz and Janelle Monae say their emotions are running high after the recent death of the esteemed designer. (March 5)

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Amber Heard, Janelle Monae front row at Valli

A slanted wall with trapezoid-shaped window holes and sanitized lighting evoked the mood of a spaceship for Italian designer Giambattista Valli at his show in Paris. (March 5)

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Brandi Carlile on her Grammy performance

Brandi Carlile reveals the peaceful look on Janelle Monae’s face helped settle her nerves at the Grammys. (Feb. 11)

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Monae: ‘I feel like I’m a part of something huge’

(7 Dec 2018) Kacey Musgraves, Ariana Grande, Alicia Keys, Janelle Monae, more walk Billboard Women pink carpet. (Dec. 7)

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Chrissy Teigen: ‘It just sucks that we had to prove ourselves’

(13 Nov 2018) At the Glamour Women of the Year Awards, Chrissy Teigen talks about the year of the woman, Janelle Monae hypes Michelle Obama’s memoir, while Alicia Silverstone urges personal action on climate change. (Nov. 13)

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Janelle Monae’s new video part of ’emotion picture’ featuring Tessa Thompson

Janelle Monae’s new music video “Make Me Feel” is part of a longer “emotion picture” featuring actress Tessa Thompson. (Feb. 23)

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How “Black Panther” Is Bringing Afrofuturism Into The Mainstream

When the first mainstream black superhero stepped onto the ‘60s comics scene, there was no word to describe the genre of storytelling he represented.

Decades later, the highly anticipated “Black Panther” film is being called Afrofuturist. Its depiction of Wakanda, a hidden fictitious African nation without a colonial past, is especially credited as an “Afrofuturist paradise.” A shape-shifting cultural phenomenon, Afrofuturism isn’t easy to define but there is one common thread that ties Afrofuturist works: a look at future or alternate realities through a black lens.

Hollywood and its award shows have come under heavy scrutiny for their representation of black people. “There are stories about aliens where the alien is supposed to be a metaphor for people of color. I mean, how is that inspiring?” said Afrofuturist author and choreographer Ytasha Womack.

The criticism extends to the world of sci-fi film and literature, where black protagonists have historically been few and far in between. But Afrofuturist narratives emerged in part to fill that void.

Janelle Monae’s android alter ego and Andre 3000’s extraterrestrial-inspired music videos are prime examples of how mainstream hip-hop artists embraced Afrofuturist narratives over the past decade. TV networks are now catching up by investing in futuristic narratives featuring black people. On-screen adaptations are underway for post-apocalyptic books by author Nnedi Okorafor and the late Octavia Butler, a literary icon of Afrofuturism.

Watch how three creatives channel Afrofuturism in the video above.

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