That’s how you open a show.
In a performance that included everything from placing a hat on Tom Hanks’ head to putting Leonardo DiCaprio on the spot to sing, Janelle Monáe celebrated queer artists, Black History Month and called out the Academy for the Oscars being, well, so white, in the opening of the 92nd Academy Awards.
Monáe started the musical extravaganza with a Mr. Rogers-inspired opening and was later joined on stage by Billy Porter and dancers representing nominated films. However, the moments that stood out the most were the singer’s pointed statements made throughout.
“Tonight we celebrate all the amazing talent in this room,” Monáe said in another moment. “We celebrate all the women who directed phenomenal films. And I’m so proud to stand here as a black queer artist telling stories. Happy Black History Month.”
The 2020 Oscars is so white you need to wear sunglasses when looking at the nominees. As HuffPost’s Marina Fang pointed out, “Out of the 20 acting nominees, only one actor of color, ‘Harriet’ star Cynthia Erivo, was included.”
Additionally, no women were nominated for Best Director, again.
None of that is shocking, considering the Academy’s history. However, no one was expecting Monáe, or anyone really, to call that out in the show’s opening.
In 2019, the Oscars went hostless after Kevin Hart’s old homophobic tweets were surfaced online, but the Academy had an easy fallback plan. That year, the Freddie Mercury/Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” was nominated for Best Picture, paving the way for Adam Lambert and the surviving members of Queen to open the ceremony.
This year was different. Like the Best Original Song nominee from “Frozen 2,” the opening of the hostless 92nd Academy Awards was going “into the unknown.” But with Monáe leading the way, there’s nowhere else we’d rather be.