Janelle Monae’s Production Company Signs First-Look Deal With Universal

Janelle Monae performing onstage during the 2018 Global Citizen Festival.
Theo Wargo / Getty Images

Janelle Monae is currently one of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. Since her rise to fame, the 32-year-old has managed to add a number of titles to her resume, including actress and model. Over the years, she has released a number of successful albums, and her most recent release, Dirty Computer, earned great reviews from many music enthusiasts.

As an actress, she has appeared in a handful of films, including Moonlight and Hidden Figures. She will soon be seen in an upcoming Universal film, Welcome to Marwen, and the Harriet Tubman biopic, Harriet, slated for 2019. She has also recently been added to the cast of Disney’s Lady and the Tramp remake.

And it seems the multitalented woman is looking to spread her wings still. According to a report from The Fader, she has recently inked a first-look production deal with Universal Pictures through her production company, Wondaland Pictures.

Under the agreement between the two parties, Wondaland and Universal Pictures will be creating and developing content that will reach across multiple genres and aim to shed light on “underrepresented perspectives” while giving a platform to “marginalized voices.”

Monae posted the news to her Instagram profile and included a statement from Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Pictures.

“There is an exciting, artistic revolution taking place in our industry, and Janelle and the talented team at Wondaland are at the forefront,” Langley said. “Their forward-thinking, inclusive approach to content and storytelling make them a perfect fit for our studio.”

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Thank you for your belief in @wondaland Donna Langley & Universal . We look forward to going on this journey ! To our peers & fellow creatives we can’t wait to collaborate with you . Family, friends, & day one supporters we hope to make you proud . We are humbled by the opportunity. ???????? #WondalandPictures ???????????????????????????????????? “Universal Pictures announced that the studio has entered into a first-look production agreement with Janelle Monáe’s Wondaland Pictures, the film division of her multimedia company Wondaland. ???? Alongside its creative in-house team of executives including CEO ‪Monáe, Managing Partner Mikael Moore, Creative Director Chuck Lightning and Executive Producer Nate Wonder, Wondaland and Universal Pictures will develop multi-genre content with an emphasis on championing underrepresented voices and groundbreaking perspectives. ???? “There is an exciting, artistic revolution taking place in our industry, and Janelle and the talented team at Wondaland are at the forefront,” said Donna Langley, Chairman, Universal Pictures. “Their forward-thinking, inclusive approach to content and storytelling make them a perfect fit for our studio.” ???? The deal further strengthens the collaborative relationship between Monáe and Universal: She stars in Universal’s upcoming Robert Zemeckis-directed movie Welcome to Marwen, opening Dec. 21, and Focus Features’ Harriet Tubman biopic Harriet due out next year.”

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The singer recently graced the cover of Fast Company magazine, and during the accompanying interview, she talked about how being fired from her job at Office Depot turned out to be one of the best things to happen to her. Monae said that money was tight at the time and she wasn’t able to purchase her own computer so she would use the company’s computer to update fans online about her upcoming performances. She said one day her superiors called her into their office and things didn’t go well.

“I went back, and my supervisor, manager just said: ‘Look, we know you don’t want to be here. We see you using the company’s computer for your personal business. We know that you want to be an artist — we’re going to let you go. You’re fired.’ And it was devastating,” she recalled.

After she was fired, she went on to write a track called “Lettin’ Go,” which became the first single she put out. The song was later featured on a compilation CD created by Outkast rapper Big Boi. And the rest is history.