How did Janelle Monáe go from being a poor young girl in Kansas City to one of Hollywood's breakout stars of 2016?

According to the music artist and actor, harnessing creativity, finding her confidence, and embracing the power of control were a few key factors.

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for TNT​.


In Marie Claire's "2017 Fresh Faces" issue, Monáe opened up on a lot of different issues, like being a black woman in Hollywood — "We have to realize our power and our magic," she noted — and how poverty became her unlikely "superpower" as a kid — "Being poor helped me be more creative," she explained.

One of the more telling tidbits from the interview was Monáe's take on the importance of women having the control to be themselves in a world that's relentlessly trying to mold them into something different.

As she explained:

"It is important for women to be [in control], especially when gender norms and conformity are pushed upon us. Women automatically are told that this is how you should look. This is how you should get a man. This is how you should get a woman. You need to fit into all these boxes to be accepted. I don't subscribe to that way of thinking. ... I believe in embracing what makes you unique even if it makes others uncomfortable. I have learned there is power in saying no. I have agency. I get to decide."

So far, Monáe's decisions have shown she's a creative force to be reckoned with.

Monae, already a Grammy-nominated R&B, soul, and pop music artist, made waves on the big screen last year for her performances in "Hidden Figures" and "Moonlight," which were both nominated for Best Picture at the 2017 Oscars ("Moonlight," in spectacular fashion, won).

The star, who'd garnered few acting accolades prior to 2016, was celebrated as a force on screen in the two films, which, each in their own way, addressed race, sexuality, gender, and class in America's past and present.

Monáe portrayed Mary Jackson, who'd been a standout engineer at NASA, in "Hidden Figures." Photo by Hopper Stone.

Some music fans may have been pleasantly surprised at Monáe's seamless transition into a Hollywood star. But following her own unconventional path seems to be what Monáe does best: "I don't think we all have to take the same coordinates to reach the same destination," she told Marie Claire.

Spoken like a true trailblazer.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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Bird-watching is in focus on a new National Geographic show.

You may remember the name Christian Cooper, but if you don't, this will jog your memory. In summer 2020, Cooper made the national news when a white woman, Amy Cooper (no relation), called the police, falsely accusing him of threatening her. Christian Cooper was out in the early morning at Central Park doing what he does often: bird-watching. It's a longtime hobby that, thanks to that unfortunate exposure, he's now taking to the next level and sharing with the world. Cooper recently finished filming six episodes of "Extraordinary Birder" for National Geographic.

"Whether braving stormy seas in Alaska for puffins, trekking into rainforests in Puerto Rico for parrots, or scaling a bridge in Manhattan for a peregrine falcon, he does whatever it takes to learn about these extraordinary feathered creatures and show us the remarkable world in the sky above," National Geographic wrote in a press release announcing its new slate of personality-driven exploration and adventure themed storytelling.

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TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

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