Janelle Monae has been busy. The multi-talented singer and actress has released new music, and audiences are anticipating this week’s release of her upcoming film “Antebellum.” Monae said the movie is like a mirror for America to face its racist past, and some people may not like what they see.
“This movie is a reflection of America and America is many things; and we are many things and my hope is that when people watch this film that they will be able to see themselves in here and some people who watch it won’t like what they see,” Monae said. “That means it’s time to deal with it. It’s time to be truthful because the first thing that we need to do in order to change and improve as Americans … is to hold ourselves accountable. So yes, this is absolutely a mirror.”
Antebellum is a horror thriller produced by QC Entertainment, which worked with Jordan Peele on “Get Out” and “Us.” It is also the first feature film from Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, who wrote, directed and produced the project. Bush, who is black, and Renz, who is white, are known for their social justice advertising work. They were joined by producers Zev Foreman, Kenny Mac, Raymond Mansfield, Sean McKittrick, Ales G. Scott and Lezlie Willis.
The movie centers around Monae’s character, Veronica Henley, a successful Black author and academic who is transported back in time and enslaved on a 19th century plantation as punishment for challenging the system. Throughout the film, she fights to free herself and others from bondage and return to modern-day times.
Earlier this year, Monae shared how “triggering” it was to film scenes for the movie on a plantation. As the only other black person on the production team, Willis spoke of her experience working with Bush and Renz as well as her belief that we have to give people room to work through their trauma.
“Chris and Gerard have been very explicit in what their vision is and have not compromised on any level and I love working with people like that,” Willis said. “I think that we can’t be dismissive of the traumas that people are carrying and for me I think this is a call to action and it’s also calling us out.”
In a review of the film, Variety asks, “Can they handle a film that calls out white supremacy as aggressively and effectively as ‘Antebellum’ does?”
“Antebellum” premieres Friday, Sept. 18, on digital platforms such as Apple TV Google Play, and Vudu, and cable services like Xfinity, AT&T, and Dish.
Monae also spoke to “GMA” about the inspiration behind her new song “Turntables,” which is featured in the Amazon original “All In: The Fight for Democracy.”
“We are in the middle of a revolution right now. I know you can feel it, and I think that energy is going to be important and giving energy because there’s a lot of emotional fatigue as people march, as people are online, as people are fighting for Black lives and marginalized voices,” Monae said. “This song was just my way of giving energy to the revolutionaries and to the revolution that we’re in.”