Janelle Monáe Honored at a Gala in Support of Empowering Girls, Nails a Killer Performance

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As stars continue to call attention to the need for gender equality in Hollywood, Janelle Monáe, Amandla Stenberg, and more gathered at the Power Up, We are the Future gala in Beverly Hills Thursday to discuss improving equality for all girls in California and support empowerment programs for youth.

The event, hosted by AltaMed at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, not only honored Monáe for her philanthropic contributions with the 2016 Maverick Woman Award, but also Michelle Obama, Eve Branson, philanthropist Pepita Serrano, and Google exec Julie Ann Crommett, while guests included beauties like A.J. Cook (below, left) and Christina Milian (below, right).

The FLOTUS wasn’t in attendance at the event, but accepted her award via video from Monáe, saying, “As you may know, the issue of girls education is near and dear to my heart, and that’s why last year, President Obama and I launched Let Girls Learn, a new initiative to help adolescent girls worldwide attend school.”

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“I’ve traveled across the globe, I’ve met so many of these girls and they are so bright and so eager to learn. They are counting on people like you to help give them a chance to fulfill their potential," she added. "I want you to know that I plan to continue this work long after my time as First Lady is over, and I am so grateful that I will have all of you as partners in this effort.”

Meanwhile, Stenberg (below, center), who attended the event in a cropped black blazer paired with a white collared shirt, gold choker, and black trousers, presented the award to her “mentor, friend, and role model,” Monáe. “You’ve seen her power and poise as an artist, but now I get to celebrate both the amazing artist she is and inspiring woman she is,” Stenberg said.

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As Monáe stepped up to receive the honor, rocking a high-waist black miniskirt, white collared shirt, and a black cape, she said, “I’ve seen the future and the future is female! She is bold, she is fearless and she is a god. She fights for equality.”

“I'm going to accept the invitation to be called a maverick. I’m a maverick who keeps learning and growing ... and I know that a maverick has to embrace the things that make her unique even if it makes her uncomfortable," she continued. "I look forward to seeing a better future and creating a better healthier future with you. Let’s Power Up and activate.”

Monáe’s speech came after she gave a high-energy performance of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” and her own “Tightrope” in her schoolgirl-esque ensemble and a black and white fringed cape (at top). Before the event, the singer dished to InStyle about what empowers her. “Being around other young women who are powerful within their own right, it helps empower me. When I see them just standing firm in their truths and loving themselves and being confident, that really does help empower me and make me want to walk taller and hold my head up.”

The evening, filled with messages of women’s empowerment like Monáe’s, raised money for several charitable organizations geared towards uplifting young women, including AltaMed’s Empowerment Programs for Girls and Youth in Los Angeles.

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