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2017 Commencement Speaker

 

Janelle MonaeDillard University has moved its commencement start time to 9 a.m., on Saturday, May 13 on the Rosa Freeman Keller Avenue of Oaks.

 

Janelle Monáe (Wondaland Arts Society/Bad Boy Records/Atlantic) is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, performer, actor, producer and CoverGirl spokesperson known for her unique style and groundbreaking sound. She’s also known for her activism and speaking out against social injustices, police brutality and civic rights.  

 

 

Immersed in the performing arts at a young age, she founded her record label the Wondaland Arts Society releasing the EP "Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase)." In 2010 Monáe released the highly anticipated and critically acclaimed “ArchAndroid,” which earned her two Grammy nominations, including one for the hit single “Tightrope.” Monáe performed at that year’s awards alongside Bruno Mars and B.O.B.  In 2013 she released the  the critically acclaimed album “The Electric Lady” featuring Prince, Solange Knowles, Erykah Badu, which reached No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200 Chart. The album's first single “Q.U.E.E.N.” garnered rave reviews and the accompanying video received over 4 million YouTube views in its first week and a coveted MTV VMA Moonman. In February of 2015 Monáe launched her very own label, Wondaland Records.

 

Last year, Monáe was featured in the Super Bowl 50 Pepsi commercial titled, the “Joy of Dance,” where she paid homage to some of the greatest musical acts of past and present. As 2016 closed, Monáe took her talent to the silver screen, starring as a lead actor in the dramas Hidden Figures and Moonlight. Both films earned Oscar nominations for Best Picture, with Moonlight winning the award at the 89th Academy Awards. Hidden Figures centers around the true story of three African-American women who work for NASA and help make John Glenn the first person to orbit the Earth in 1962. The film also stars Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, and Kevin Costner.  Hidden Figures won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Moonlight, produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment and A24, chronicles the coming-of-age of Chiron (Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes), a young man facing an uphill battle with his sexuality during Miami’s turbulent war-on-drugs era in the 1970s. Moonlight also stars Naomie Harris, André Holland and Mahershala Ali.

 

Monáe hasn’t allowed her fame to silence her from being vocal on injustices. Conversely, Monáe has used fame as a platform and her political activism is well-documented. During a 2015 performance on NBC’s “Today,” Monae performed her protest song “Hell You Talmbout,” but her remarks were cut off when she addressed the audience about police brutality. Last February, Monáe performed at a concert in Flint, Mich., to raise money for the city’s recent water crisis. In January, after the most recent presidential election, she spoke and performed at the Women's March on Washington that drew an estimated 470,000 people.


In addition all of her accolades, the University is also pleased to have Monáe as the commencement speaker because of its two signature programs, physics and film. Monáe is an advocate for STEM, and in an interview with Teen Vogue she said: “ I hope we see more girls from all backgrounds working in STEM [science, technology, engineering, mathematics] as a result of it being on-screen.”  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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