Janelle Monaé to Play Josephine Baker in A24 Series De La Resistance

Baker broke boundaries as a Black woman entertainer, French secret agent, and activist

janelle monae josephine baker
Janelle Monaé (photo by Arturo Holmes/MG22/Getty Images) and Josephine Baker (photo via John Kisch Archive/Getty Images)

    Janelle Monaé is set to portray cabaret singer-turned secret agent and civil rights activist Josephine Baker in A24’s forthcoming television series De La Resistance, Deadline reports.

    Created and run by Jennifer Yale (Legion, Outlander), De La Resistance follows Baker’s career as a barrier-breaking entertainer and a World War II secret agent for the French Resistance. Born in America but loyal to France, Baker performed at the  Folies Bergère in Paris and was the first Black woman to star in a major motion picture, the 1927 silent film Siren of the Tropics. In 1939, she was recruited into France’s military intelligence agency, where she socialized with Germans at embassies, ministries, and night clubs to gain information for the war effort. She was later awarded several honors by French General Charles de Gaulle.

    In the 1950s, Baker became a prominent civil rights activist, working with the NAACP and refusing to perform to segregated audiences in the United States. She was the only official woman speaker at the 1963 March on Washington, and following Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination,  Coretta Scott King offered her a leadership role in the movement.


    Monaé will produce De La Resistance under her Wondaland production company with Chuck Lightning, Mikael Moore, Nate Wonder and Dana Gills as executive producers. Angela Gibbs will also executive produce. The series also counts Damien Lewis, author of forthcoming Baker biography The Flame Of Resistance, as a co-executive producer and researcher. Currently, the show is at the center of a streaming service bidding war.

    Monaé previous played pioneering engineer Mary Jackson in the 2016 blockbuster Hidden Figuresso they’re no stranger to portraying historical figures. More recently, they unveiled the novel The Memory Librarian, and last year, they teamed up with the likes of Beyoncé, Chloe x Halle, Alicia Keys, Zoë Kravitz, and MJ Rodriguez to implore the world to “Say Her Name (Hell You Talmbout).”

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