For anyone who has been suffering withdrawals since Empire had its final curtain call in 2020, but has also wanted to see something that explores the country music industry in the same vein, Fox’s new series Monarch might be what you have been looking for. Even if this style of twangy, Southern-fried music is not your preference, creator Melissa London Hilfers' drama chronicling the dysfunctional (and sometimes deadly) dynamic of the “First Family in County Music” boasts a stellar ensemble that might be enough to pique your interest in checking out its Sunday, September 11, premiere alone. With its arrival among the new TV dramas on the 2022 fall TV schedule, take a look at who plays who on the Monarch cast — starting with this Academy Award-winning, living legend.
Susan Sarandon (Dottie Cantrell Roman)
As country music icon and head of the Roman Dynasty, Dottie Cantrell Roman, we have Susan Sarandon, who once showed off some exceptional singing talent in 1974’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show and also played a ruthless queen in Disney’s 2007 musical fantasy Enchanted years after playing an unwittingly magical woman in George Miller’s The Witches of Eastwick.
The Bull Durham star has been nominated for five Oscars — including ones for Thelma & Louise from 1991, the 1994 legal drama The Client, and director Tim Robbins’ Dead Man Walking the following year — the last of which saw her take home the gold. Sarandon has also received much praise for movies like 1994’s Little Women or 1998’s Stepmom, as well as on the small screen — most notably as Bette Davis on FX’s Feud or her more recent recurring role on the Ray Donovan cast.
Anna Friel (Nicolette Roman)
Playing Dottie’s daughter, “Nicky,” is Anna Friel, whose big screen career highlights include a 1999 adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the medieval history/sci-fi thriller Timeline from director Richard Donner, and the 2005 soccer drama Goal!: The Dream Begins and its 2007 sequel. One of her most iconic roles is the resurrected Charlotte “Chuck” Charles on the short-lived (but much-loved) romantic series Pushing Daisies, which led to more big screen roles like Holly in 2009’s Land of the Lost with Will Ferrell and Danny McBride or Limitless with Bradley Cooper.
Friel’s other notable TV credits include Starz TV series spin-off of Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience, the title role of U.K. cop drama Marcella, and Clive Barker’s Hulu original anthology horror movie, Books of Blood.
Trace Adkins (Albie Roman)
Playing Dottie’s husband, Albie, is Trace Adkins, who already knows quite a bit about the world of country music being one of the genre’s most successful artists. In fact, he earned first screen credit playing a “Bayou Band Member” in 1987’s Square Dance before really getting into acting in the early 2000s with guest spots on the likes of Yes, Dear as an inmate (along with fellow musician Travis Tritt), King of the Hill in the recurring role of Elvin Mackleston, and the My Name is Earl pilot as himself. He also had notable parts in acclaimed movies 2011’s The Lincoln Lawyer with Matthew McConaughey, Deepwater Horizon with Mark Wahlberg from 2016, and I Can Only Imagine, which tells the story behind a popular Christian music song of the same name, in 2018.
Joshua Sasse (Luke Roman)
Dottie and Albie’s son and CEO of their family business, Luke, is played by Joshua Sasse, who previously demonstrated his musical talent as the title role of ABC’s medieval musical comedy series Galavant from 2015-2016. He made his acting debut in 2010 with the U.K. action thriller The Big I Am, which was followed up with 2013’s Frankenstein’s Army and a recurring role on the short-lived sci-fi sitcom The Neighbors while he was starring on the Canadian crime drama Rogue. The British actor later played the male lead of the romantic comedy series No Tomorrow on The CW before starring in a Hallmark movie called Her Pen Pal in 2021.
Beth Ditto (Gigi)
Another musical artist on the Monarch cast (as Gigi, the Romans’ youngest daughter) is Beth Ditto, who was the lead singer of the indie rock band Gossip until she went solo in 2016. That same year she, technically, earned her first screen credit as a voice on a TV in Nocturnal Animals, but would not make her official on-camera acting debut until 2018 in director Gus van Sant’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot. The next year, Ditto landed a starring role on the Kirsten Dunst-led Showtime comedy On Becoming a God in Central Florida and, in 2021, appeared on an episode of AppleTV+’s biographical drama, Dickinson.
Meagan Holder (Kayla)
As Gigi’s wife, Kayla, we have Meagan Holder, who made her debut on The CW’s 90210 in 2009 — the same year she made her feature-length debut with a straight-to-video Bring it On sequel subtitled Fight to the Finish before making her official big screen debut with 2010’s You Again. Following smaller roles on TV shows like Make It or Break It or Ringer with Sarah Michelle Gellar, she would appear in Clint Eastwood’s 2014 adaptation of Broadway’s Jersey Boys and appear opposite Matthew McConaughey in Ghost of Girlfriends Past in 2016. That same year, she became a series regular on short-lived sports drama, Pitch, and would later land a recurring role on FX’s Dave — another show about the music industry — and most recently starred in the 2022 crime thriller One Way.
Inigo Pascual (Ace Grayson)
Nicky’s teenage son, Ace Grayson, who was adopted from an orphanage and is described as talented and sensitive. Ace is played by Inigo Pascual. The young Filipino musician and actor is making his English-language acting debut on the Monarch cast. His previous credits from the Philippines include the film Crazy Beautiful You from 2015 and 2020’s Boyette more recently.
Martha Higareda (Catt Phoenix)
As the Roman’s rival, Catt Phoenix, we have Martha Higareda, who made her English-language debut in the 2007 horror flick Borderlands and appeared in Street Kings with Keanu Reeves the following year. After landing a recurring role on USA’s Royal Pains, she starred in the Kevin Costner-led sports flick McFarland, USA in 2015, leant her voice to an episode of Steven Universe in 2017, and appeared on Alice Braga’s crime drama Queen of the South. After playing the lead of 2019’s Culture Shock — the tenth installment of Blumhouse and Hulu’s monthly horror showcase, Into the Dark — Higareda joined the cast of the Netflix original sci-fi TV show, Altered Carbon.
Emma Milana (Ana Phoenix)
As Catt’s 17-year-old daughter and aspiring singer, Ana, we have Emma Milana. Monarch is the young actor’s latest major role on a series following the Snapchat original Solve, of which she appeared on five episodes in 2020. She made her feature-length debut with the Lifetime original crime drama Dying to Be a Cheerleader after appearing in a couple of short films and the music video for Johnny Orlando and Mackenzie Ziegler’s “What If.”
Sing, dance, and be thrilled with the Monarch cast when the drama premieres on Fox on Sunday, September 11. The series will then air on Tuesday nights, beginning September 20.
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.