After our exclusive screening of ANTEBELLUM on September 16th, we had a good chat with the queen Janelle Monáe herself. If you ever had any doubt that Janelle Monáe is committed to our community, you need to see this interview. Janelle walks the walk, and proved to be perfectly casted as the lead actress in ANTEBELLUM.
In addition to Janelle Monáe, the other guests on the panel were HBCU Buzz marketing lead Vanessa Roberson, Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) Marketing Director Shayna Jamison, and her fellow TMCF student scholars. Those model students included Carlos Mayers of Hampton University, Jordyn Allen of Howard University, and Derrick Sanders Jr. of Tennessee State University.
“I always wanted to go to an HBCU,” shared Monáe, to the delight of everyone on the panel. In fact, she was accepted to the illustrious Howard University, which isn’t surprising for a performer of her caliber. She also reminisced on gracing the stage at Hampton University, a performance that Shayna actually got to see! Fast forwarding a few years, Monáe is a busy and remarkably multi-talented singer, actress, and activist. She emphasized when choosing projects as a black entertainer, there is a larger and often heavy responsibility to bare.
ANTEBELLUM is a horror movie with parts of the past, but it really resonates with the social injustices plaguing the United States today. It’s not an easy film to watch because our history is uglier than any slasher horror movie. This psychological horror film really materalizes the realities of slavery, and you might constantly find yourself wanting to turn away. The film was taxing on her, but she took on the burden to share the story of her ancestors. Monáe best framed that ANTEBELLUM was “a unique opportunity to highlight on a global level what it’s like to be a black woman who carries the burden of dismantling white supremacy and systemic racism on her back every single day. I don’t think people understand the centuries of work that our ancestors and black women have put in.”
Considering that the horror of slavery remains embedded in our everyday life, Janelle Monáe saw this film as a way to really boost the racial reckoning happening in this nation right now. However, she shared there must be a time when the oppressed shouldn’t need to be on the forefront of movements for change.
What Monáe has alluded to is actually becoming a reality. Recent protests like the Black Lives Matter protests fighting for the justice of George Floyd, among others, have been remarkably more diverse than the marches of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s. Rather than drowning out black voices, this awareness and passion from other communities only helps to amplify them. Perhaps ANTBELLUM will be the last slavery film anyone will ever need.
When you see this film, you will have a lot to think about. However, Janelle wouldn’t want to have it any other way. “Some of us will not like what we see about ourselves in this film,” she said. You may resonate with the struggle of her kidnapped character, or need to reflect on the racist and elitist ideologies perpetrated by her character’s captor. The only way out of the real-life horror that is racism is ultimately accountability and honesty.
Make sure you watch the impactful ANTEBELLUM, which premieres at home on demand on Friday September 18, 2020.