'Homecoming': Janelle Monae Takes Over for Julia Roberts in Season 2
By Stacy Lambe
Franziska Krug/Getty Images for Belvedere
Homecoming has a new lead.
Janelle Monáe will star in the second season of the acclaimed Amazon original series, taking over for Julia Roberts, who led the first installment. Monáe will play a new character described by the streaming platform as “a tenacious woman who finds herself floating in a canoe, with no memory of how she got there -- or even who she is.”
While Amazon gave the series a two-season order, it was previously reported that Roberts, who serves as an executive producer on the series, only made a one-year commitment and would not be returning in an onscreen capacity.
Roberts, who received largely positive reviews for her first series regular TV role, was notably snubbed when the nominees for the 71st Primetime Emmys were announced in July. The series as a whole only received one nomination, for Outstanding Cinematography for director of photography Tod Campbell.
Based on the hit Gimlet podcast and adapted for TV by co-creators Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg and director Sam Esmail, the first season of Homecoming told the story of Heidi Bergman, a caseworker who was employed at a secret government rehabilitation facility for returning soldiers and has lost all memory of her time working there. In addition to Roberts, the show's first season also starred Bobby Cannavale, Shea Whigham, Alex Karpovsky and Stephan James.
It remains unclear if any of the other original stars are returning, or if the story will build upon the events in season one. In November, ET reported that Horowitz and Bloomberg were hard at work on crafting the new episodes -- and it now seems with the knowledge that Roberts would not be returning.
At the time, Esmail insisted that there is no internal pressure to modify the season two plan, depending on how the first 10 episodes were received. “Honestly, the way we did the first season was to try to keep it intimate and really talk about these people and their journey together,” he said, “and that's the way we're going to approach the second season.”
Monáe, meanwhile, continues to make a welcome transition from singing to acting. In 2016, she made her acting debut in the back-to-back, award-winning films, Hidden Figures and Moonlight. She has since appeared in an episode of the Amazon original, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, and opposite Steve Carell in Welcome to Marwen. She’ll next appear as Marie in Harriet, the upcoming Harriet Tubman biopic starring Cynthia Erivo as the titular abolitionist.