EXCLUSIVE: Eight-time Grammy nominee and SAG winner Janelle Monaé (Hidden Figures) is set to star as iconic entertainer and freedom fighter Josephine Baker in TV series De La Resistance, we can reveal.
Moonlight and Everything Everywhere All At Once outfit A24 is behind the buzzy package, which is currently being fought over by multiple streamers.
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.
Monáe, who will also produce under her Wondaland banner, has long been a fan of Baker, even modelling her look at this week’s Met Gala (pictured above) on the woman known as “Black Venus” and the “Creole Goddess”.
Creator and showrunner will be Jennifer Yale, known for her work on See, Outlander and Underground. A24’s TV series to date have included Euphoria and Ramy.
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.
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 is the primary source material for the story.
Singer, actress and writer Monaé, whose new novel The Memory Librarian recently debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list, is best known for screen roles in Hidden Figures, Moonlight and Harriet. Upcoming she will co-star in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out 2.
Monaé is repped by WME, ID PR, Ziffren Brittenham, Johnson Shapiro Slewett & Kole, Wasserman.