Janelle Monae feels vulnerability is a big strength, but underrated. The Hollywood star likes to draw from her vulnerability as she says she is “an open wound every time” she takes up a project.
“Vulnerability is such a strength and it’s underrated,” Monae told IANS while talking about the vulnerability of her character in “Homecoming” season 2.
“Some of the best actors are able to pull from it. From Viola Davis to Kerry Washington, so many of the great artiste use their vulnerability, use their own insecurities, use their own trauma, use their own experiences to access the character and to bring that character to life,” added Monae, a hugely successful musician.
Reflecting upon her approach, she said: “As an artiste, I am an open wound every time I go to a project, whether it is a show or an album or whatever it is that I decide that I need to do at that moment. It’s always from a place of ‘I don’t know what the hell I’m doing’.
“I have to surrender to that first. I have to say, ‘Okay, where do I start?’. Every time it is a blank canvas and I’m just trying to find the colours that I want to paint and sometimes I know what I’m doing, sometimes I don’t, sometimes it sticks and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s the beauty with art… It is that we all get a piece of the individual and how they are at that time. You get a slice of life, from my evolution and from each artists’ evolution and understanding of who they are,” she explained.
Monae broke into the music scene with her debut album “The ArchAndroid” in 2010. She rose to fame with her image of a person of colour adding afro-futuristic touch to her musical world of R&B and Pop. She likes to make a statement through her music, and doesn’t mince her words while expressing her views as well.
With multiple nominations for Grammy awards, she made her way to the acting world. She made her presence felt through “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures”. Now, she has segued her way to the small screen with Amazon Original’s “Homecoming” season 2 — which marks her first major acting role on TV after a brief stint in “Electric Dreams”.
After its 2018 debut season starring Julia Roberts, Monae will be taking forward the story of “Homecoming” with the second season.
She will bring alive the journey of Jackie, a military veteran who wakes up stranded in a boat with no memories of her past and how she ended up in the boat. The second season of “Homecoming” will be out on Amazon Prime Video on May 22.
Talking about the show, she said: “I saw the first season. And I was a fan of, obviously Julia Roberts, who is an icon, Stephan James, Hong Chau and the tone of the show. I felt like they were doing something very innovative with the shortness of the episodes and how the credits used to roll when the show was still on. I love the music. I love all of that.
“When I read the script for the second season, I was like, ‘oh, they’re still pulling all the things I love from the show’… The Hitchcockian feel,” she added.
The 34-year-old star watched films, including “Memento” and “The Bourne Identity”, to get to the character of Jackie.
“I was like ‘this is going to be a challenge for me in the best possible way’, because you can’t play someone who lost their memory. You have to really live that and what does that mean. So I spent a significant amount of time not trying to look like somebody who lost the memory, but by being a good listener, trying to look like someone who didn’t want to look like someone who lost their memory… Because once people know that you don’t have a memory, they can take advantage of you.”
The actress created a backstory for her character — which turned out to be quite helpful.
“I don’t think she is like me because there are certain things that she does that I would just be like I wouldn’t do as a human. But what it did was, it helped me to empathise with her backstory, like why she was making those decisions. And so I had to create a backstory that motivated her decision making,” she added.