Janelle Monáe and La’Darius Marshall share many things in common: both were recent cover stars for the Cut, both have found immense success in entertainment on account of their unwavering, unapologetic authenticity, and both have had to forego their respective plans to be at home due to the current global pandemic.
During an Instagram Live chat between the creatives, they opened up about the direct and indirect implications of La’Darius’s decision to pursue cheerleading over football, and the opportunity it granted him to impart knowledge to and inspire others.
Janelle: You making that decision just sent such a powerful message to me. And I just think that you are redefining what it means to be black. How do you identify in terms of your gender?
La’Darius: I’m male.
Janelle: Male. What it means to be black. What it means to be male. You are redefining that. What is means to be masculine, what it means to be feminine, what it means to be everything in between. I think that’s super important — your representation. And especially teaching your family, [and] teaching friends in our communities — because I come from a community very similar to yours, and family very similar to yours, you know, in different ways … And that’s what we need in order to evolve and to become more accepting of the next generation of people, and of people who look like you to say, “Hm. I want to do this” or, “I want to do ballet” or whatever art form you want to do. I think it will educate people to, you know, respect that art form and respect the artist and know that we don’t all have to pick the same path because we come from this family. Like you were designed to do something that only you could do.
La’Darius: Yes, thank you so much. That means a lot to me because I feel like it is the most educational thing for people, especially like us, to understand that you don’t have to be what everyone else says. You make your own path. If you want to do something completely different and off the charts, then you do it.
La’Darius: You create your own path in life because if you keep following everybody else’s, that’s just exactly what it’s going to be. You’re just going to keep on following until you don’t even know who you really are anymore. Taking your own path … yes it is scary, and yes it is very different, and yes it is very new, but you learn a lot of things about yourself that you did not know in the very beginning. And that is what I learned about myself. I learned a lot.
To hear more from Janelle and La’Darius on forging their respective identities, the first thing they’ll be doing as soon as quarantine is over (hint: one of their plans involves a party), and Janelle’s latest television series, Homecoming, watch the full video now, both above and on Instagram.