Janelle Monáe is taking on another historic figure for her next role. Monáe will star as the iconic entertainer and freedom fighter, Josephine Baker in the upcoming TV series De La Resistance. She will also produce the series under her Wondaland banner.
De La Resistance will focus on Baker’s role as a spy for the Allies during the French resistance. Baker used her notoriety as a popular singer to help her move around Europe gathering information for the Allies, which helped them defeat the Nazis.
It will also highlight her experience as one of the world’s most iconic, talented and glamorous entertainers.
During World War II, Baker joined French Intelligence as a spy, becoming a key figure in the French Resistance as she used her entertainer status to gather intel on the Axis countries. She was awarded many accolades for her work in helping France during the war, and she later became an activist for the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.
A24 is behind De La Resistance with Jennifer Yale is attached as the show’s showrunner. There is not network or streamer behind it yet as the project is “being fought over” by multiple streamers. Chuck Lightning, Mikael Moore, Nate Wonder and Dana Gills will serve as executive producers for Wondaland on the series. Angela Gibbs is also an executive producer.
Co-executive producer and researcher is Damien Lewis, whose upcoming book on Josephine Baker The Flame Of Resistance is published this month.
American-born French entertainer and civil rights activist Baker, who spent most of her career in Europe, was the first Black woman to star in a major motion picture, the 1927 silent film Siren Of The Tropics.
During her early career, she was among the most celebrated performers in Paris. 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. Later, Baker was active for the French Resistance during WWII, for which she was awarded multiple honors by French leader General Charles de Gaulle.
Baker refused to perform to segregated audiences in the U.S. and is noted for her contributions to the civil rights movement. She was even offered a leadership role in the movement by Coretta Scott King following her husband’s assassination.
Up next Monáe will star in the Knives Out sequel.