Janelle Monáe to Play Hero Josephine Baker in World War II Series De la Resistance

Janelle Monáe will star as jazz icon Josephine Baker in the upcoming drama series De la Resistance, Deadline reports. The new series comes from A24, the entertainment company behind Euphoria, and Monae’s own TV and film production company, Wondaland. While the series has not found a home, there is interest from multiple streaming services.

The series will show the different aspects of Baker’s dynamic persona, including her life as a performer, civil rights activist, and her time as a French Resistance spy for the Allies during WWII. Her status as a widely popular performer made it easy for Baker to rub noses with high-society circles, where she would gather information. She would travel throughout the continent to reach other allies and spread what she learned. After the War, Baker was recognized for her efforts by French President Charles de Gaulle, who named her to the Legion of Honor.


De la Resistance creator and show runner Jennifer Yale previously worked as a writer for successful shows including Outlander and Dexter. A24, Chuck Lightning, Mikael Moore, Nate Wonder, Dana Gills, Angela Gibbs and Janelle Monae (under Wondaland) will serve as Executive Producers for De la Resistance. Damien Lewis, who wrote The Flame of Resistance, an upcoming book about Baker’s life, will join as Co-Executive Producer and Researcher.

Monáe recently took to Twitter to confirm the news and express her admiration for Baker. During this year’s Gilded Glamor themed MET Gala, the singer, writer and actress wore a Ralph Lauren gown with headpiece that is widely perceived as a nod to her hero.

Related: Here’s 5 Great Films That Fight for Civil Rights

Josephine Baker: An Icon’s Multifaceted Life

Born in 1906 in St. Louis, MO, Baker migrated to Europe in 1925. Once there the young woman rose to stardom as a performer. In 1927, she performed in the revue A foil sale wearing a short skirt made of artificial bananas and a beaded necklace. That image would become a symbol of the Jazz Age and Roaring Twenties. That year, Baker starred in the silent film Siren of the Tropicsbecoming the first African American woman to star in a major motion picture.

Though she lived in Europe, she was an outspoken supporter of the Civil Rights Movement and always refused to perform for segregated crowds. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King asked Baker to consider taking a lead role in the movement. Baker declined as she had small children.

She died in 1975 in Paris, France. In 2021, she became the first Black woman to enter the Panthéon in Paris.

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