Mr. Glover’s charm comes from his many talents and what feels like an unwillingness to lean into the greatness of any one of them. He gives off a vibe that he was unpopular in high school but has made it work as an adult. By all accounts, he should be an outsider, barred from the same admiration we’ve given to the hunks who’ve come before him. But as he moves up the ranks of the Hollywood elite, he still feels accessible, and that is his sexiest trait of all.
The actor Issa Rae is building her career on a platform of social awkwardness. She parlayed her web series, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” into a book of the same name and then into the HBO series “Insecure,” which has twice been renewed. “Insecure” elaborates on the life of a fictional Issa who is ordinary and not O.K. with it. The character Issa is tuned in to what the rest of society thinks her life should look like, as well as the reality that she may never get there, either by circumstance or preference.
Off-screen, Ms. Rae seems similarly misplaced. A fresh A-lister, she does not exude the glamour that we have historically expected from Hollywood stars. She rocks her hair natural instead of straightening it. Last year, she was named a CoverGirl. Black women in desperate need of the representation she brings praise her as a beauty icon.
The singer and actor Janelle Monáe is transgressive with her personal style, and along gender and sexuality lines. She was named one of the new faces of CoverGirl in 2012, and she rose to fame by proffering a musical sound just as original as her look, not by catering to the male gaze. She combines elements of rock ’n’ roll and R&B to create her sound, and her lyrical content explores themes of science fiction, racial justice and, more obviously, love. Her recent music videos for “PYNK” and “Make Me Feel,” use visual symbols — like vulva-shaped pants and a party scene where she courts two suitors — to flirt with ideas of polyamory and bisexuality.
Before snagging acting roles in “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures,” Ms. Monáe spent years wearing a uniform of only black-and-white tuxedo combinations and her signature hairstyle, a textured updo. Her feminine features worked in tandem with masculine energies and details, proving that fluidity and experimentation were not barriers to a