In Spotlight: Homecoming star Janelle Monáe's best films and TV shows

The dazzling and critically-acclaimed singer is becoming one of the hottest properties in Hollywood, landing a lead role in Amazon Prime Video’s Homecoming season two.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 27 May 2020 - 11.45am
Getty

Kansas-born singer and actress Janelle Monáe established her position as one of the musical trailblazers of her generation with the critically-acclaimed concept album Dirty Computer.

Earning her comparisons with Prince, Kendrick Lemar and Beyoncé, Monáe’s music is experimental, thrilling and extravagant.

Straddling the world of pop and acting is never an easy balance, but incredibly Monáe appears to be able to hop between dazzling high-concept albums and compelling movie and TV roles at the drop of a hat.

In 2020, she takes her biggest jump yet into the world of TV, stepping into Julia Roberts' shoes no less, playing the lead in Amazon Prime Video’s Homecoming season two.

Here are Janelle Monáe’s greatest movie and TV shows in her career so far…

Homecoming – 'Jacqueline'

Janelle Monáe in Homecoming season 2 Amazon Prime Video

It’s quite tricky to write about Monáe’s performance in Homecoming without spoiling details of the intricately plotted mystery series.

But let’s just say there is far more to her character, who we discover lost and confused on a boat in the middle of a lake at the start of season two, than first meets the eye.

A compelling and powerful presence on the screen, perhaps the biggest compliment we can give is that we never missed Julia Roberts, the star of season one, at any moment.

Moonlight – Teresa

Janelle Monáe at the launch of Moonlight Getty

What a way to make your acting debut? Monáe quickly established that she was a musician to be taken seriously in the movie industry, landing the role of Teresa opposite Marhershala Ali in this Best Picture Oscar-winner.

A coming-of-age classic that broke the mould, it was the perfect fit for a musical visionary who wanted the film to inspire and offer comfort to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.

Hidden Figures – Mary Jackson

Janelle Monáe with her Hidden Figures co-stars Getty

Many actors would spend their whole career looking for one great film, but Monáe got two in the space of six months, following Moonlight with Hidden Figures.

Also nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, this biographical film was based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly about black female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the heat of the Space Race.

Starring alongside Taraji P Henson and Octavia Spencer, Monáe played Mary Jackson, NASA’s first African-American female engineer.

­Welcome to Marwen – Julie

Janelle Monáe at the premiere of Welcome to Marwen Getty

This unusual movie from Robert Zemeckis was never likely to reach the mainstream. It tells the story of Mark Hogancamp who builds his own miniature world using toy action figures to deal with the trauma of a violent physical assault.

It’s well worth hunting down to watch for Steve Carell’s emotional lead performance. Meanwhile, Monáe excels in her dual role as an ass-kicking GI Julie in Hogancamp’s fictional world and as a comforting social worker in Mark’s real-life rehab.

Harriet – Marie Buchanon

Janelle Monáe at the 2019 premiere for Harriet Getty

It was no surprise to see Monáe turn up in 2019’s biographical film about abolitionist and activist Harriet Tubman.

Monáé referenced her in the single Q.U.E.E.N (“Well I’m gonna keep leading like a young Harriet Tubman”), so when she was offered a role alongside Cynthia Erivo in the film she jumped at the opportunity.

The musician plays a fictional character in the story, Marie Buchanon, who welcomes a young Tubman into her boarding house in Philadelphia.

Homecoming season 2 is available now on Amazon Prime Video.