Actor, musician, and all-around entertainer Janelle Monáe has just entered a historic partnership with Martell. 

Monáe will serve as the energy driving brand’s new campaign, “Soar Beyond the Expected,” in an all-woman-led production of audiovisual and photographic art – a true rarity in the world of spirits. 

Directed by artist child. and photographed by multimedia artist Jheyda McGarrell, the campaign features Monáe as the lead ‘Standout Swift,’ – one who lives life on their own terms, approaches their desires with unmatched passion, and unapologetically manifests their personal truths. Monáe’s involvement with a prestige cognac brand is a truly groundbreaking venture; a fact which is not lost on them in the slightest. 

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“I live outside of the binary. I feel my masculinity, my femininity, and everything in between,” Monáe told us. “Historically, there have not been a lot of women and folks like myself seen drinking dark liquor.” 

“A lot of who I am is centered around not letting anyone define me, and going into spaces that have historically been centered around men, white older men in particular, and burning them down; redefining what those spaces can look like, and what they can be.”

Monáe’s affinity for Martell Blue Swift is truly an organic one as well, as they began enjoying the spirit straight with a single cube of rock ice and an occasional cigar during the long days of pandemic lockdowns. 

Established in 1715, Martell is the oldest cognac brand still in existence today and is also the first cognac house to ship barrels to America starting in 1793. Made of V.S.O.P cognac matured in French oak casks and finished in Kentucky bourbon barrels, Martell Blue Swift is a celebration of the brand’s historic ties with the U.S.

“It was the first spirit drink in the cognac industry. I think when you’re moving in authenticity and honoring your own purpose, you are the first. You are one of one,” they said of the brand. “That’s where we align.”

Monáe aligns with the brand even further on their commitment to philanthropic endeavors and providing opportunities to women of color. 

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“The sexy thing about this partnership is the philanthropic efforts we’ll be announcing that I’m really passionate about and that Martell is also passionate about,” they said. “It’s important that this campaign is led by women; giving women opportunities behind the camera specifically, to just have their voices and their work highlighted.” 

“It can’t just be a ‘me’ thing. That’s not sexy to me,” Monáe said. “Bringing along other thought leaders and artists who I feel are also Standout Swifts is super important to me.”

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