Inside Glass Onion star Janelle Monae’s wild life – from tough childhood to time travelling claims and ‘sex with robots’

SHE’S the stand-out star of Netflix’s latest surprise movie hit.

Rapper and actress Janelle Monae stunned in detective flick Glass Onion — watched by 35million families worldwide over Christmas and New Year.

Janelle Monae stunned in detective film Glass Onion. which was watched by 35million families worldwide over Christmas and New YearCredit: INSTAGRAM/JANELLE MONAE

Janelle with co-star Kate Hudson in Glass Onion

Janelle with co-star Kate Hudson in Glass OnionCredit: AP

Daniel Craig, who plays private investigator Benoit Blanc, alongside Janelle

Daniel Craig, who plays private investigator Benoit Blanc, alongside JanelleCredit: � 2022 Netflix, Inc.

But critics say the biggest mystery is why Kansas-born Janelle has been snubbed by the Golden Globes despite her strong performance.

The film — the streaming service’s number one festive movie — has been nominated for a best motion picture award and her co-star Daniel Craig is up for a best actor gong.

Yet Janelle, 37, is nowhere to be seen on the list — despite actress Ana de Armas getting a nod for a role similar to Janelle’s in the first Knives Out mystery three years ago.

American critics are asking why she didn’t at least receive a nod for best supporting actress in the musical or comedy category.

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Movie site We’ve Got This Covered says the rebuff “once again calls into question which actors the Hollywood Foreign Press has their eyes on and which ones they choose to ignore”.

But blunt-talking Janelle is unlikely to care.

“I don’t do what I do for awards ­— I know that’s a political game,” she told Vanity Fair.

“Do I love this movie? F**k, yes.”

The film sees tech millionaire Miles Bron (Edward Norton) invite pals to a murder-mystery party on his private Greek island.

When Daniel Craig’s famous private investigator Benoit Blanc also gets an invite, it’s clear something is afoot. 

Enter Janelle’s character Andi Brand, who was wronged by Bron, and the fun begins — with an unexpected twist.

Janelle was already a star on the music scene, having been nominated for eight Grammys before she turned her hand to acting in the 2016 coming-of-age film Moonlight.

‘My father’s drug problem affected me’

A year later she won a Screen Actors Guild Award for her role in Hidden Figures, which told the story of African-American female mathematicians who worked at Nasa during the space race years.

While her acting skills have won her plaudits, Janelle has a backstory to rival that of any film.

Born Janelle Robinson, the daughter of a cleaner and truck driver, she was brought up as a strict Baptist choir girl in a Christian Bible belt community in Kansas.

Parents Janet and Michael broke up when she was a toddler and she witnessed the devastation of drugs when her dad developed a problem.

It was a path the ambitious star was determined not to follow.

Janelle said: “My father had a drug problem, but he’s clean now and doing wonderfully. But it affected me. I don’t do drugs. 

“It could’ve easily been the other way around, I could have easily been a product of my environment and played the victim. But I consider myself a thriver.”

She was not one to follow others down a God-fearing route either, despite her cousin being a pastor.

She said: “You’d hear just a lot of foolishness sometimes, honestly. When I say foolishness, it’s just like, ‘Oh, you’re gonna go to hell if you live this sort of way’.”

The other issue a young Janelle had to overcome was attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

There was little understanding from her parents or others.

Janelle explains: “I think I had ADHD growing up. But when you grow up with working-class parents, they’re like, ‘You better pay attention. We don’t have money to go take you to figure out . . . ’ 

“You know, all these things . . . now I’m like, ‘Dang, I could have benefited from some Ritalin or something’. Because my mind was always over here.”

Janelle was working for an office supply company when she recorded her demo album, The Audition which she sold from the boot of her car. That caught the interest of Outkast’s Big Boi and Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, who signed Janelle to his label Bad Boy in 2006.

While her acting skills have won her plaudits, Janelle has a backstory to rival that of any film

While her acting skills have won her plaudits, Janelle has a backstory to rival that of any filmCredit: Getty – Contributor

Kate and Janelle at a Glass Onion photocall in London last month

Kate and Janelle at a Glass Onion photocall in London last monthCredit: Getty

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 2018 she described herself as 'a queer black woman in America'

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 2018 she described herself as ‘a queer black woman in America’Credit: Rex

Three albums, performances at the Nobel Peace prize ceremony and singing with Stevie Wonder followed before she took an interest in acting.

Having moved to Atlanta, Georgia, Janelle ditched the conservative “family values” she was brought up with and started to explore diverse sexual ideas.

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 2018 she described herself as “a queer black woman in America — someone who has been in relationships with both men and women”, then continued: “But then later I read about pansexuality and was like, ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too.’ I’m open to learning more about who I am.”

Romantically, Janelle has been linked to Thor actress Tessa Thompson but the pair never went public about their relationship.

The singer has been willing to share lovers in the past, saying: “I’ve been in monogamous relationships; I’ve been in poly­amorous relation­ships.”

There has been some confusion about which gender pronouns to use for Janelle, who described herself as non-binary earlier this year on Red Table Talk — Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook chat show.

Janelle said: “I just don’t see myself as a woman, solely. I feel all of my energy. I feel like God is so much bigger than the ‘he’ or the ‘she.’ If I am from God, I am everything. 

“I am everything, but I will always, always stand with women. I will always stand with black women.”

Making love to artificial beings

But on the website promoting a book she wrote, The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer, “she” and “her” are used.

Janelle cites David Bowie and Prince as huge influences. 

Like Bowie she is fascinated by science-fiction, does not adhere to gendered dress codes and has been creating her own persona. Janelle said: “I had listened to Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, by David Bowie, and I was like, ‘This is an artist who was able to create their own character’.”

In other interviews she has described herself as “part-android” and talked about making love to artificial beings.

She has claimed robots will take over the globe in 2029 and that there is an underwater world called New Atlantis.

Janelle bizarrely told one journalist: “There’s a time-travelling machine here. I’ve been through it, a lot of the artists have been through it. It was created for Atlanta. 

“And there’s an underwater world here called New Atlantis that also has an area where you can travel back and forth.” 

When someone as outrageous as Grace Jones — Janelle’s close friend and inspiration — says “you crazy” then you know an unconventional path has been taken.

And in November Janelle posted a snap of herself on Instagram dressed as an alien in sparkly bikini top and hotpants from her intergalactic-themed birthday bash. 

Her path to super-stardom continues. Her next big role is as civil rights activist and Second World War French resistance spy Josephine Baker in upcoming TV series De La Resistance.

It will tell how Baker played a vital role in defeating Nazi forces, so much so, she was awarded multiple honours by French leader General Charles de Gaulle.

The question remains how much of Janelle’s pansexual, part-android, time-travelling persona is an act.

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She admitted: “I don’t look at myself as a musician-turned-actor or actor/musician, you know? 

“I think I’ve probably been acting my whole life. What if I am an act? Nobody knows, you know, but me.”


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