The Roseanne spinoff has cast theater actress Maya Lynne Robinson as a new series regular for the upcoming season, ABC announced Friday.
Robinson will play Geena Williams-Conner, DJ's (Michael Fishman) wife and Mary's (Jayden Rey) mother, who returns home from active duty overseas in Afghanistan.
The character was first introduced in the Nov. 16, 1994, episode of Roseanne and was then played by Rae'Ven Larrymore Kelly. On the Roseanne reboot, The Mindy Project actress Xosha Roquemore briefly played the role in the episode, "Go Cubs," and was seen via Skype.
“We’re thrilled to welcome the incredibly talented Maya Lynne Robinson to the cast this season. Her character, 2nd Lieutenant Geena Conner, whom a younger DJ was reluctant to kiss in his school play, comes full circle as his wife and Mary’s mother, bringing back a little piece of Conner history," showrunner and executive producer Bruce Helford said in a statement. "Yet, while Geena is no stranger to the family, viewers old and new will enjoy seeing how her ‘military-style’ discipline meshes with the Conners’ more laid-back attitude."
Robinson most recently appeared in theater productions of A Streetcar Named Desire as Stella and Runaway Home as Eunice. She has also appeared on the web series HTMAST, GURL and solo shows, Character Breakdown and Straight A Student.
Earlier this week, ABC released the first official photos from The Conners' first episode taping. According to the premiere episode, which will be titled “Keep on Truckin’,” a sudden turn of events forces the family to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before.
Goodman spoke to The Sunday Times in August, where he said that Roseanne Barr's character will be killed off in the spinoff.Roseanne was canceled in May, after Barr was fired due to a racist tweet against Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser to Barack Obama. “It’s an unknown," Goodman said of whether or not the spinoff will be successful, before referring to his beloved character, Dan, and what's to become of Barr's character. "I guess he’ll be mopey and sad because his wife’s dead.”
Goodman also said he hasn't been in touch with Barr, but did thank her for clearing the way for The Conners to move forward with ABC. He also said that he knew for a fact that 65-year-old Barr was "not a racist."
“She had to sign a paper saying that she relinquished all her rights to the show so that we could go on," he shared. "I sent her an email and thanked her for that. I did not hear anything back, but she was going through hell at the time. And she’s still going through hell.”