In the issue, the CoverGirl spokeswoman opens up about her unique style, standards of beauty, sex appeal and body image.
The 27-year-old star tells ESSENCE that she wants to "redefine what it means to be sexy and what it means to be a woman. Showing my skin is not what makes me sexy. I like skirts and dresses just like everyone else, but I had a message I needed to put out there. It was up to me to show people and young girls there was another way."
Janelle's new album Electric Lady is set to debut this summer, around the same time she hits the stage for this year's ESSENCE Festival. In the meantime, the glossy's May issue will arrive on newsstands April 5.
Here's a look at Janelle's beautiful ESSENCE cover. What do you think?