Let’s make one thing clear, we support Black women– period. Megan Thee Stallion has become the latest example of the mistreatment Black women often face when speaking up for themselves. Since July 2020, when reports first surfaced that Megan, born Megan Pete, was allegedly shot by singer/ rapper Tory Lanez, she has had to deal with the dual trauma of the initial shooting and the subsequent harassment by Lanez, his fans, powerful people in the music industry, and the overall effort to discredit her.
Gun violence is an issue that continues to disproportionately impact Black women. According to a 2022 study, “Black women are three times more likely to be fatally shot by an intimate partner compared to white women.” (Megan has denied having an intimate relationship with Lanez.) During a particularly fraught time in hip hop, when we’ve lost so many artists to gun violence, including the recent murder of rapper Takeoff, it’s difficult to witness the continued minimizing and victim blaming of Megan by her peers in the business.
xoNecole has compiled a timeline of the events that unfolded following Megan’s shooting, including members of the industry who have seemingly undermined her story.
Megan Thee Stallion and Tory Lanez: A Timeline of Events
July 12, 2020
Reports surfaced that Megan had been shot by an unreported assailant while with Lanez, born Daystar Peterson, his bodyguard, and Megan’s friend at the time Kelsey Nicole when leaving a party at Kylie Jenner’s house.
July 16, 2020
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images
Page Six exclusively reported that Lanez had officially been named as a potential suspect in the shooting. “Tory fired the shots from within the vehicle while Megan was outside trying to leave,” a source told the outlet. “There is video and the police are investigating. This is a case of a man physically harming and abusing a woman.”
It was also reported around this time that Megan unfollowed the singer on Instagram.
July 22, 2020
Megan gets on Twitter to clap back at reality star Draya Michele who went on a podcast and suggested that Lanez and Megan “had some sort of Bobby and Whitney love that drove them down this type of road" and joked that “I want you to like me so much you shoot me in the foot too."
“Dumb bitch that shit ain’t fucking funny who tf jokes about getting shot by a nigga,” Megan tweeted.
Michele would later apologize saying that her attempt at a joke fell flat and that "I truly don’t glorify domestic violence... I was trying to say just love me deeply."
July 23, 2020
Podcaster Adam22 reports that sources told him that Megan and Lanez were in a sexual relationship and that there was a flirtation between Jenner and Lanez at the party. Their interaction reportedly caused Megan to become jealous and start “violating his ass” and “really shitting on him.”That same day, rapper Cam’ron received backlash on social media after posting a transphobic comment about Megan saying, "Tory Lanez saw that dick and started shootn..IDC what no one say."
July 28, 2020
Rapper 50 Cent issues an apology to Megan after posting a meme depicting the Grammy award-winner as the character Ricky from the film Boyz n the Hood as he’s being shot.
“👀Damn I didn’t think this shit was real,🤦♂️It sounded so crazy @theestallion i’m glad your [sic] feeling better and i hope you can accept my apology. I posted a meme that was floating around. I wouldn’t have done that if i knew you was really hurt sorry. 🤷🏽♂️," he wrote.
August 19, 2020
Megan posts a photo of her injured foot on Instagram in an attempt to quell rumors that she wasn’t shot.
August 21, 2020
Megan gets on IG live and confirms that Lanez allegedly shot her. “Since y’all hoes so worried ’bout it, yes, this nigga Tory shot me,” she said. “You shot me. And you got your publicist and your people going to these blogs lying and shit. Stop lying. Why lie? I don’t understand. I tried to keep the situation off the internet, but you dragging it.
She continued, “You really fucking dragging it. Motherfuckers talking about I hit this nigga. I never hit you. Motherfuckers like, ‘Oh she mad ’cause he was trying to fuck with Kylie.’ No, I wasn’t. Like, you dry shot me. Like, everybody in the car – there’s only four motherfuckers in the car: me, you, my homegirl, and your security. I get out the car, I’m done arguing. I don’t wanna argue no more. I get out, I’m walking away. This nigga, from outside the back seat of the car, start shooting me. You shot me!”
She also addressed rumors that the injury to her foot was actually caused by broken glass. “I ain’t get cut by no glass, but let me tell you why they’re saying that: the people in the neighborhood –there’s a witness – when the police came because the neighbors called the police – this did not happen at Kylie’s house.” She continued, “This happened damn near back at the house I was staying at. I was just trying to get home. We were five minutes away from my spot. The police come and I’m scared.”
“All this shit going on with the police. The police are shooting motherfuckers for anything. The police was literally killing Black people for no motherfucking reason. Soon as the police tell us all ‘Get out the motherfucking car,' the police is really aggressive,” she explained. “You think I’m bout to tell the police that we – niggas, us Black people – got a gun in the car?! You want me to tell them that we got a gun in the car so they can shoot all of us up? Nigga, I’m scared.”
August 25, 2020
Houston legend Bun B comes out in support of his fellow hometown resident. “I know Tory, I know his manager. I know all of ‘em. Fuck all that, though. If the man on drugs, get him some goddamn rehab. If the man got mental health issues, get him some therapy,” he said.
“But you not just gon’ sit here and shoot this girl, and we not say nothin’. This shit not real. Nobody’s talking about it because it’s a Black woman… put your hands on Lady Gaga and see how quick they lock your ass up.”
September 9, 2020
TMZ reports that texts allegedly coming from Lanez show that the singer apologized to Megan while she was in the hospital. "I know u prolly never gone talk to me again, but I genuinely want u to know I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart,” read the texts. He also blamed his actions on being “too drunk.”
September 25, 2020
Lanez releases his album Daystar where he finally addresses the allegations that he shot Megan. In his song “Money Over Fallouts,” he raps lyrics like, “How the fuck you get shot in your foot, don’t hit no bones or tendons?” and “If you got shot from behind how can you identify me?”
September 29, 2020
Billboard reports that Lanez’s team posed as members of Megan’s team to plant stories that made Megan look less credible including fake text messages. Lanez’s team denies the claims.
October 3, 2020
Megan performs on Saturday Night Live as a musical guest and she stops mid-performance to share a message about supporting Black women. "We need to protect our Black women and love our Black women, 'cause at the end of the day, we need our Black women,” she preached.
October 8, 2020
Lanez was officially charged with one count of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and one count of carrying a loaded, concealed firearm in a vehicle.
October 13, 2020
Megan writes an op-ed for The New York Times titled “Why I Speak Up for Black Women.” The article states: “I was recently the victim of an act of violence by a man. After a party, I was shot twice as I walked away from him. We were not in a relationship. Truthfully, I was shocked that I ended up in that place.
My initial silence about what happened was out of fear for myself and my friends. Even as a victim, I have been met with skepticism and judgment. The way people have publicly questioned and debated whether I played a role in my own violent assault proves that my fears about discussing what happened were, unfortunately, warranted.”
October 20, 2020
Lanez gets on IG live to discuss the aftermath of the shooting and says that he still considers Megan to be a friend even if she doesn’t but that “I know what happened, and what you’re saying, what the alleged things and the alleged accusations of my name is, are not true. It’s falsified information. It’s false information.”
Megan responded on Twitter saying: “This Nigga genuinely crazy.”
November 18, 2020
Lanez pleads not guilty to both charges.
November 20, 2020
Megan’s debut album Good News is released where she addresses the shooting in the intro song “Shots Fired” with lines like “Imagine niggas lyin' 'bout shootin' a real bitch (huh?) Just to save face for rapper niggas you chill with.”
November 26, 2020
Kelsey Nicole (L) and Megan Thee Stallion (R).
Screenshot from Megan Thee Stallion's "Realer" music video/ YouTube
The “Savage” artist’s former friend Kelsey Nicole, who was one of the passengers in the car the night of the shooting, released a diss track to Megan titled “Bussin Back” where she rapped “Never been a jealous friend and the people really know it/If you would'vе kept it silent then I would'vе been told it/ See I really thought I knew you, thought that you would keep it G/ If you wanna talk gangsta, bitch, I'm really from the street.”
The former besties fell out following the shooting.
December 9, 2020
Rapper Jack Harlow responds to criticism of keeping Lanez on the remix of his hit song “What’s Poppin’” during an interview with Power 106. "I don't think I'm God. I don't have no room to judge anybody,” he said. “I wasn't there when this and that happened, I don't know anything."
January 21, 2021
The Source falsely reported that Megan dropped the charges against Lanez. The Canadian-born rapper’s representative came out and disputed the claims. Megan took to Twitter and said “Y’all can’t tell when shit fake news?”
February 2, 2021
“Buss It” artist Erica Banks goes on IG live with Lanez, a move many people think was an attempt to antagonize Megan since Banks is signed to the same record label that she’s currently going through legal battles with since March 2020.
June 21, 2021
Megan got into a Twitter feud with rapper and frequent collaborator DaBaby after he worked with Lanez on a new song. “Support me in private and publicly do something different…these industry men are very strange. This situation ain’t no damn “beef” and I really wish people would stop down playing it like it’s some internet shit for likes and retweets,” she tweeted.
July 20, 2021
Lanez mentioned Megan in his freestyle on Hot 97 “Megan people trying to frame me for a shooting/But them boys ain’t clean enough.”
July 25, 2021
Tory Lanez (L) and DaBaby (R) performing at Rolling Loud in Miami.
Jason Koerner/Getty Images
DaBaby brings out Lanez during his Rolling Loud performance, a move that was a violation of Megan’s protective order that required the “Jerry Sprunger” singer to stay 100 ft away from her. Lanez’s bail amount increased after the violation.
August 13, 2021
Prosecutors have filed a motion to hold Lanez in contempt for violating the restraining order that was issued in his ongoing criminal case.
December 15, 2021
A judge upholds Lanez’s charges after an LAPD officer testified that he shouted “Dance, bitch!” before allegedly shooting the “Pressurelicious” artist.
February 22, 2022
Megan posts screenshots of alleged text messages on social media from what appears to be Lanez apologizing to her after the shooting; a move that was in response to him seemingly subtweeting her by writing "u can't buy and tweet your way out of this one ..not today."
March 21, 2022
Popular hip-hop blogger DJ Akademics tweeted and deleted a claim that Lanez’s DNA was not found on the weapon in the case. Megan responded on her Instagram stories saying “court ain’t even started so why yall ready to start lying.”
April 4, 2022
Lanez is arrested for violating a protective order after tweeting about Megan back in February. He was released on a $350,000 bond.
April 24, 2022
Megan appeared on CBS This Morningspeaking with Gayle King about the shooting and the events following it.
April 26, 2022
50 Cent took to Instagram to cast doubt on Megan after she said that she wasn’t in a sexual relationship with the “Luv” singer. “Now that I don’t believe, she had to think about her answer. SMH all this shit is crazy,” 50 said.
June 15, 2022
In her Rolling Stone cover, Megan addresses the shooting saying that she wants Lanez to “go under the jail,” and that “I thought everyone in the car was my friend, [and] the whole time that’s not how they thought of me.”
August 24, 2022
Lanez's lawyer drops him as a client, citing “irreconcilable differences.” The lawyer had been defending Lanez against assault allegations made by Love and Hip-Hop: Miami cast member Prince.
October 31, 2022
A judge in Los Angeles ruled that Lanez had to be placed on house arrest until the trial after Lanez was found in violation of his parole due to allegedly assaulting August Alsina in September.
November 4, 2022
\u201cI know I\u2019m very popular but y\u2019all gotta stop attaching weak ass conspiracy theories in bars to my name lol Niggas nor hoes EVER address me or @ me WITH a fact or receipts. I AM CLOUT BITCH keep sucking my pussy\u201d— TINA SNOW (@TINA SNOW) 1667538594
On his collab album Her Loss with 21 Savage, Drake raps in the song “Circo Loco,” “This bitch lie 'bout gettin shots but she still a stallion/ She don't even get the joke but she still smilin'” a line that many people think is in reference to Megan.
The H-town rapper responded to the lyric by tweeting, “I know I’m very popular but y’all gotta stop attaching weak ass conspiracy theories in bars to my name lol Niggas nor hoes EVER address me or @ me WITH a fact or receipts. I AM CLOUT BITCH keep sucking my pussy.”
November 5, 2022
Rapper Lil Yachty — who co-wrote “Circo Loco” — said on Instagram live that the line was not a reference to Megan, but to girls who get butt injections.
November 11, 2022
An open letter signed by representative Maxine Waters, Me Too founder Tarana Burke, host Marc Lamont Hill, and other community figures was released in support of Megan saying in part “You are believed, loved, and supported.”
The trial against Lanez for assault and weapons charges begins Monday, November 28, 2022.
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Feature image by Rodin Eckenroth/ Getty Images
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Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Janelle Monáe's Reveals The Real Reason Why She Stopped Wearing Her Signature Tuxedos
Singer and actress Janelle Monáe exemplifies how change can be a powerful catalyst for growth and transformation.
Monáe, who rose to fame in 2010 following the release of her debut album, The ArchAndroid, captivated fans' hearts with her powerful vocals, catchy tunes, and style. Around that time period, when various female artists were known to wear provocative ensembles on stage, the "Tightrope" songstress set herself apart by wearing her signature black and white suits and continued to do so for almost a decade.
In the later years of her career, after the release of her studio albums The Electric Lady in 2013 and 2018's Dirty Computer, many began to notice the shift in Monáe's artistry and fashion, which some widely praised.
Although the now 37-year-old rarely addressed the reason behind the transformation over the years, that would all change when Monáe sat down with radio personality Angie Martinez on her IRL podcast earlier this month.
During the interview, Monáe --who was promoting her latest album, "The Age of Pleasure"-- opened up about her mental health struggles, how she would cope, and why she chose to live in freedom.
Janelle On Why She Stopped Wearing Her Signature Suits All the Time
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
In the May discussion, the "I Like That" vocalist revealed she suffers from anxiety, which she claimed would occur around "winter to spring."
Monáe added that when she has her bouts with anxiety, she tends to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Further in the interview, the "Lipstick Lover" singer disclosed that her emotional eating habits caused a weight fluctuation and that she could no longer fit into the suits she once wore earlier in her career.
Monáe explained that even though she tried to diet and exercise to return to her smaller figure, she ultimately stopped and made peace with herself with the help of therapy because she acknowledged that she isn't the same person she was nearly a decade ago and shouldn't try to be even if it was a highly "celebrated" version.
"I'm petite, but it can get thick... When I couldn't fit them suits anymore, and I was like, 'Oh my God, what is going on?' I would be dieting, running, or exercising, trying to fit into [it]. I'm just like, 'No. No, we're here. This is where we are.' We [are] not about to be utilizing life trying to be an old version of ourselves. No matter how celebrated that version of me was. I'm here. I'm here," she said.
Janelle On Freedom
As the topic shifted to freedom and what that meant to Monáe, the "Primetime" vocalist shared that in this new era of her life, she enjoys it because she can boldly express herself however she wants and honor who she is as a person right now.
Monáe also revealed that she had found ways to become a better artist and the best version of herself because of her freedom.
"What is the new version of freedom? What does that feel like? That's usually when I feel the most free is when artistically, I can honor exactly who I am right now," she stated. "I feel most free as a human when I can honor exactly who I am right now."
Monáe's fourth studio album, The Age of Pleasure, is set to be released on June 9.
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Feature image by Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images