Janelle Monae, Aja Naomi King & More Share Powerful Messages In Marie Claire’s “Fresh Faces” Issue

We’re living in a political and cultural climate where it’s hard to escape the increasing amount of activism that is happening around the country in response to the election of a POTUS who bragged about sexual assault and showed no remorse for mocking marginalized groups at campaign rallies. Yes, the resistance is real and it is heartening to see so many raising their voices and using their platforms in response to the ugliness.

While history has shown celebrities to often take a stand for a cause they deeply care about, we’re seeing it more than ever at award shows, in film and TV content, in interviews, and in front of audiences. The latest issue of Marie Claire magazine promoting 5 “Fresh Faces” in entertainment, is a good example of this. It also reiterates the impact of a celebrity platform when it comes to sharing important messages that can inspire and inform people.

The 5 women featured are Janelle Monae, Aja Naomi King, Emily Ratajkowski, Zoey Deutch and Alexandra Daddario. Some of the topics discussed include politics, race, and activism. In a time when people on certain ends of the political spectrum like to claim celebrities should “stay in their lane” and not talk politics, it is imperative that they continue to do so. We are all part of the body politic, no matter our job titles.

‘Hidden Figures’ star Janelle Monae said she is all about black girl magic and standing alongside women, and emphasized why women should be in control of how they define themselves.

“It is important for women to be [in control], especially when gender norms and conformity are pushed upon us. Women automatically are told that this is how you should look. This is how you should get a man. This is how you should get a woman. You need to fit into all these boxes to be accepted. I don’t subscribe to that way of thinking. I don’t think we all have to take the same coordinates to reach the same destination. I believe in embracing what makes you unique even if it makes others uncomfortable. I have learned there is power in saying no. I have agency. I get to decide,” she said.

Model and actress Emily Ratajkowski, who has become quite outspoken about her political leanings throughout the election (she supported Bernie Sanders) has also become a great study in why we need to stop putting women in boxes and labeling them according to how they look.

“In every profile written about me, there is, ‘She’s so sexual and she’s such a sex symbol,’ paired with, ‘But, wow, she knows about politics.’ And that in itself is sexist. Why does it have to be one or the other?” she said.

Emily is pleased to see the amount of political resistance in response to Trump, but believes it has to go further than just marches and outrage.

“One of the things that I really hope to see come out of [Donald] Trump’s election, and what I am starting to see, is that people who were never political are starting to get motivated. My only thing is that I hope it’s not just all anti-Trump,” she said, adding that getting him out of the system is merely the first step in a long road to fixing what is broken in politics.

‘How To Get Away With Murder’ star Aja Naomi King divulged what it is like to be a black woman in Hollywood, and why she has hope that things are changing in terms of more diversity.

“Maybe I’m outdated in thinking this, but because I’m a young black woman and don’t see very many being the lead in a film, I have this fear, Will I be working? When I first started in this industry, my goal was to be some best friend. The sidekick. I thought that would be an accomplishment. But seeing people like Viola and Tracee Ellis Ross and Gabrielle Union and Lupita [Nyong’o]—who was two classes behind me at Yale—I can hope for more,” she said.

Her comments echo similar sentiments made by Lupita Nyong’o who also said growing up she never thought anyone like her could be considered “beautiful” let alone on TV, until she saw Oprah Winfrey on screen.

‘Why Him?’ star Zoey Deutch spoke about the dreaded “likability” trap that so many women get pushed into, even subconsciously.

“As a woman raised by brave, strong women, and men who support brave, strong women, I still feel myself falling into that ‘trying to be liked’ thing, which is f—cking bullsh*t. If you’re a nice person, just be nice. If you make art to please people or to make people like you—well, it’s never going to happen,” she said, something which activist and actress Jane Fonda also recently discussed with fellow actress Brie Larson in an interview.

Jane believes she wasted far too much time as a young woman trying to please others, especially men, and believes it only holds women back. “I was brought up with the disease to please,” she said.

Zoey’s perspective on celebrities being overtly political is that beyond the title of actress, entertainer etc, these people are still human beings with opinions on what is happening around them.

“Before I was an actor, I was a human and a citizen. As an actor, your job is to inhabit different people’s lives and honor their feelings and be empathetic to other people’s struggles. Just because you are an actor, you are not immediately an activist. But if you do have the platform and the opportunity to speak out, then I think it is your civic duty—especially right now—to be on the right side of history. We only have so long on this planet,” she said.

And finally, ‘Baywatch’ star Alexandra Daddario shares some insight into why the heightened focus on politics goes further than just who you vote for, and what party you may be affiliated with.

“I think we are beginning to look at ourselves differently now. Politics to me is finally about how we treat the people in our lives and those around us. What are we angry about? What do we hate? What do we love? Do we want other people to do what we do? Do we not care what other people do? Do we feel safe? It all becomes this jumbled mess of fear and hate,” she said.

We are indeed at a crossroads and difficult moment in politics and culture. There is a lot at stake, and more avenues than ever to raise our voices and have an impact. We like sharing powerful messages from celebrities which speak more about contributing to the ongoing discussion, rather than just putting all the spotlight on themselves. And on a related note, it’s great to see more and more female-focused mainstream media publications putting focus on what women are saying, doing, and contributing, rather than just what they are wearing and what they look like.

 

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