She’s a singer, performer, a Cover Girl, an activist and an artist–all that balled up into one tiny little package that stands at five feet even.  But that doesn’t stop the high-energy performer from selling out shows and being an inspiration to working class women everywhere. As a matter of fact, it’s the working class that she aims for with each and everything that she does. Those hard workers just like you and me.

Below she breaks down why she does what she does.

On Staying Healthy On The Road

“I do a lot of heavy sweating up on stage,” explain Monae. “We do 90-minute shows — I’m moving around and it’s very high-energy. That often becomes my workout, just performing and being onstage. I guess you can say I exercise a lot, but really, I don’t realize I’m getting a workout while I’m dancing onstage because I’m always having so much fun. I try to keep a healthy, balanced diet on the road, though it can sometimes be hard. I try to eat a lot of salads while I’m traveling, but when I need a light, fluffy snack, I reach for my pita chips and hummus.”

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“I also drink a lot of water to stay healthy and preserve my voice on the road. I sip a lot, especially when I’m flying, since airplane travel can dry out your voice like crazy. When you use your voice, it is important to have a technique to preserve it. Over the years, I’ve developed a top secret system of warming up before the show and making sure I’m not overusing my voice after — that’s why it’s important to stay quiet post-performance.”

“But in terms of staying fit and healthy, a lot comes from within. The happier you are, the more your beauty comes out. When you have a good heart and positive energy, you and the people around you are better. And that’s the best beauty and health advice you’ll find anywhere.”

On Why She Always Wears Only Black & White

Sometimes it’s riding pants and suspenders, sometimes it’s a tuxedo; almost always it’s black-and-white. She’s a Cover Girl and always looks #Flawless, but her look isn’t really about fashion. “I have been very vocal about why I wear black and white, why I wear a uniform—it’s to pay homage to the working class,” she says. “People like my mom, who had to leave school early because she was pregnant with me. She was a custodial worker. My dad was in prison and the first job—the only job—he could get was being a trash man. They raised me and for this organization to create jobs for high school dropouts, people who have been in prison or homeless, hits home for me.”

On Coming From Nothing

“I was born in Kansas City, Kansas, and I was born in one of the poorest counties — Wyandotte County. Growing up there, my resources were pretty limited, even at school. I always had to work hard. I always had to get a job. My parents were working and I was working. I was helping pay bills. I was getting consumed with grown-up things at such a young age. I was using my money from talent shows to help pay the light bills, just contributing what I could.

“Once I got the opportunities to use my talent and go to school, go to Atlanta and perform and sing, I was able to…

Janelle Monae: Why She Wants To Fail Over & Over Again  was originally published on

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