Janelle Monáe says filming ‘Antebellum’ on plantation was ‘triggering’

The actress revealed she 'brought all of my ancestors home with me'

Janelle Monáe is at the top of her game when it comes to balancing her music career with her huge acting gigs but the talented star struggled while filming her upcoming horror flick, Antebellum. 

She opened up about the “triggering” experience of filming on a plantation during a recent roundtable with The Hollywood Reporter. 

READ MORE: Janelle Monae on ‘Homecoming’ season two, PTSD in Black communities

“I brought all of my ancestors home with me,” she told the outlet during a discussion that also included Zendaya, Reese Witherspoon, Rose Byrne, Jennifer Aniston, and Helena Bonham Carter.

“And we were filming most of the stuff at night on a plantation, and I felt everything…There were just certain conversations even at craft services that if I heard would be triggering for me,” the actress said.

Janelle Monae
Janelle Monáe attends the 51st NAACP Image Awards, Presented by BET, at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 22, 2020 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

In the film, Monáe stars as author Veronica Henley who speaks out against systemic racism but is somehow transported to an alternate reality where she lives as a slave on a plantation in the South.

“I couldn’t even talk to my family sometimes,” she said. “It was kind of unhealthy when I think back.”

READ MORE: Janelle Monáe to live-stream performance in support of small businesses

Aside from dealing with the weight of the film, written and produced by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, Monáe battled serious health issues stemming from mercury poisoning. Her symptoms from the illness that she attributes to eating too much fish included hair loss, memory loss, and anxiety among other things.

“I didn’t want to talk to people,” she said.

“People would reach out, and I apologize now if you were one of those people last year who reached out to me and wanted to talk or engage in business or whatever. I just didn’t have it in me. I became kind of a recluse,” she continued.

Lionsgate dropped the trailer for the psychological thriller in March.

At first glance, the movie appears to take place during slavery times, but then we quickly hear the voice of a modern-day 911 dispatcher and see a plane flying above the plantation before scenes of Monáe in present day, and in olden times are quickly woven together, blurring the lines of the past and the present.

The film features an all-star cast, including Gabourey Sidibe, Kiersey Clemons, Marque Richardson, Eric Lange, Jack Huston, Tongayi Chirisa Jena Malone, Robert Aramayo and Lily Cowles.