Lupita Nyong'o Channels Janelle Monáe in Her Red Carpet Return

Lupita Nyong'o in a harlequin dress
Photo by Jamie McCarthy via Getty Images

Between the Knick’s vs. Bucks game that drew Zöe Kravitz, Ziwe Fumudoh, and Susan Sarandon and the Parsons benefit that reunited Travis Scott, Kylie Jenner, and their toddler Stormi, it suddenly seems like everyone is in New York City. Nowhere has that been more true than the Tribeca Film Festival, which played host to Lupita Nyong’o on Tuesday. She appeared at a screening of Nana Mensah’s film Queen of Glory made for her first red carpet appearances in over year. (The last time she snapped at a major event was Louis Vuitton’s fall 2020 showing during Paris Fashion Week in March of 2020.)

Nyong’o occasionally channels the aesthetics of the films she’s promoting on the red carpet. Her macabre (yet chic) looks circa Jordan Peele’s 2019 horror film Us, for example, included a translucent coat covered in spiky studs and a blood-red sequined dress. The harlequin gown Nyong’o wore out on Tuesday instead called to mind the many, many statements looks worn by her friend, the actor and singer Janelle Monáe. Look no further than the mermaid skirt silhouette, checkered print, brimmed hat, and scarlet statement earrings for proof of Monáe’s apparent influence. And then there’s the checkered print: Monáe has long made her longtime commitment to black-and-white known on the red carpet.

It’s no wonder. The pair, who have been friends since 2014, have been spending a lot of time together. Earlier this week, Monáe posted a video of them dancing and grinning during an event for the Wondaland Arts Society, Monáe’s creative endeavor.

Courtesy of @lupitanyongo

Nyong’o has been largely absent from the public eye for seemingly ages, in part because the Black Panther sequel—fittingly titled Wakanda Forever, and now slated for release in July of ‘22—has twice faced delays, related to the pandemic and the untimely death of its titular star, Chadwick Boseman. What’s more, HBO Max recently decided not to go forward with Americanah, an adaptation of the 2013 novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. But Nyong’o is still making moves to get into TV: She’ll soon make her debut in the medium opposite Academy Award winner and fellow TV newcomer Natalie Portman.