Having already portrayed Mary Jackson in “Hidden Figures” and Dorothy Pitman Hughes in “The Glorias,” Janelle Monaé has been tapped to play another pioneering woman. She will star as Jazz Age entertainer and civil rights activist Josephine Baker in the A24 series “De La Resistance.” Deadline broke the news.
“Currently being fought over by multiple streamers,” the show hails from creator-showrunner Jennifer Yale (“Outlander”). “The focus of the drama will be on Baker’s role as a spy for the Allies during the French resistance helping defeat the Nazis, and on her experience as one of the world’s most iconic, talented, and glamorous entertainers,” the source reports.
Monaé will produce “De La Resistance” via her Wondaland shingle. Dana Gills and Angela Gibbs are among the exec producers, and “Josephine Baker: The Flame of Resistance” author Damien Lewis is serving as co-exec producer and researcher.
Baker was a vaudeville and chorus line performer before getting her big break at Paris cabaret Folies Bergère in 1926. “Her performance in the revue ‘Un Vent de Folie’ in 1927 caused a sensation in the city and her costume, consisting of only a short skirt of artificial bananas and a beaded necklace, became an iconic image and a symbol both of the Jazz Age and Roaring Twenties,” the source describes. With 1927’s “Siren of the Tropics,” Baker became the first Black woman to star in a major motion picture.
But Baker wasn’t just a legendary entertainer: she was also a force for social justice. The trailblazer was honored by General Charles de Gaulle for aiding the French resistance, worked with the NAACP, refused to perform in segregated clubs in the U.S., and was the only woman to speak at the 1963 March on Washington.
Monaé has received eight Grammy nominations for her music, Gotham and Independent Spirit awards for her performance in “Moonlight,” and a SAG award for her work in “Hidden Figures.” She counts “Antebellum,” “Harriet,” and “Homecoming” among her on-screen projects. Next, the “Dirty Computer” artist will appear in the highly-anticipated “Knives Out” sequel. Monaé recently published the Afrofuturistic story collection “The Memory Librarian.”
Yale’s writing and producing credits include “See,” “Chambers,” “Legion,” and “Underground.”