Janelle Monaé is slated to play Josephine Baker in De La Resistance, a new television series, according to an exclusive posting in Deadline today. The series will focus on the French efforts to overthrow the occupying Nazis during World War II, highlighting Baker’s role as a spy for the Allies.
According to published reports, the series will be produced by A24, a production and distribution venue based in New York that has garnered 25 Oscar nominations as of 2019, including Moonlight, the best picture of 2017. Other A24 television products include Euphoria, Moonbase 8, Ramy, and Ziwe.
Josephine Baker was an iconic Black diva who captivated audiences in Paris from the 1920s onward. In 1927, the same year Al Jolson was appearing in blackface in The Jazz Singer, Baker became the first Black woman to star in a Hollywood film, Siren of the Tropics.
Monaé appeared at the Met Gala this week in a costume reminiscent of Baker’s Jazz Age persona. She is a long-time fan of the iconic entertainer, who famously appeared in a Paris revue in the 1920s wearing a skirt of artificial bananas and a beaded necklace. Baker was later awarded honors by Charles de Gaulle for her activities during the wartime Resistance movement.
According to Deadline, Chuck Lightning, Mikael Moore, Nate Wonder and Dana Gills will serve as executive producers for Wondaland on the series. Angela Gibbs will also be an executive producer. Damien Lewis, author of a new book on Josephine Baker, The Flame Of Resistance, is listed as co-executive producer and researcher.
In addition to her singing and writing credentials, Monaé is an author in her own right. Her novel The Memory Librarian recently debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list. She has recently appeared in Hidden Figures, Moonlight and Harriet, and is slated to co-star in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out 2.