Oscars 2020: Janelle Monáe plays Mister Rogers and applauds female directors in musical intro

Tom Beasley
Contributor
Janelle Monae performs onstage at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Janelle Monáe opened the Oscars dressed as Mister Rogers, and used her opening performance to shout out “all the women who directed phenomenal films”.

The actor and musician took to the stage to deliver a rendition of the children’s TV star’s theme tune, pausing to sing directly to Tom Hanks — who was nominated at the ceremony for playing Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

Monáe then moved into a musical number celebrating the year in cinema, pausing to sing her appreciation for female directors and say she was “so proud to be standing here as a black, queer artist telling stories”.

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She was joined by dancers representing nominated films including Joker and 1917, as well as movies that didn’t make the cut, including Midsommar, Dolemite is My Name and Us.

Billy Porter also appeared alongside Monáe and sung a segment of Elton John’s I’m Still Standing, which featured in musical biopic Rocketman earlier this year.

Janelle Monáe attends the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on February 09, 2020. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The Oscars were criticised this year for the lack of diversity in their nominees, with Cynthia Erivo the only person of colour nominated for acting and the director shortlist entirely populated by men.

Monáe, at one point, sung “come alive because the Oscars are so white”, in reference to the continued lack of representation in the ceremony.

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This thread was picked up by stars Chris Rock and Steve Martin, who took to the stage after Monáe to deliver their equivalent of an opening monologue — in lieu of a host.

Monáe’s performance was lauded on social media, for shining a light on important issues.

After achieving success as a musician, Monáe has shone on the big screen in movies like Hidden Figures and will play the lead role in thriller Antebellum later this year.

The 92nd Academy Awards aired live from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.