Janelle Monáe will play jazz icon Josephine Baker in new A24 series

Janelle Monae (AFP/Getty Images)
Janelle Monae (AFP/Getty Images)

Janelle Monáe is set to play the iconic jazz performer and French resistance fighter in a new A24 TV series titled De La Resistance.

The series will be based on the upcoming Damien Lewis book Agent Josephine: American Beauty, French Hero, British Spy, which will follow Baker’s missions during the Second World War as well as her glamorous life as one of the world’s most famous entertainers.

“A dream finally coming to life, my hero, tweeted Monáe. “Long live Madam Josephine Baker. Let’s gooooooooooo.”

The show is set to have Jennifer Yale, who has previously worked on See, Outlander, and Underground, as its showrunner. Monáe will produce the series working with her own Wondaland Pictures and author Lewis will also co-produce. According to Deadline, the show is currently being fought over by multiple streaming services.

Baker rose to fame in the mid-1920s. She headlined the famous cabaret music hall Folies Bergère in Paris, was a muse to Picasso and became a fixture of the ‘It’ Paris art scene – rubbing shoulders with Ernest Hemingway and Jean Cocteau. But today she is most celebrated for her clandestine work as a French resistance spy – for which she was awarded the Resistance Medal, the Croix de Guerre and named a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by French President General Charles de Gaulle.

Baker was also the first black woman to star in a major motion picture (the 1927 Silence of the Tropics), refused to perform for segregated audiences and later became heavily involved in civil rights activism.

Josephine Baker died in 1975 aged 68. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Josephine Baker died in 1975 aged 68. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Although Kansas-born Monaé is best known for her albums The ArchAndroid (2010), The Electric Lady (2013) and Dirty Computer (2018) she has over twenty TV and film credits including in the 2020 psychological thriller Homecoming and the upcoming Knives Out 2.

The 36-year-old eight-time Grammy nominee and SAG winner has been extremely busy since her last album release. In September she released Say Her Name, a 17-minute protest song highlighting police violence against black women which featured Beyoncé, Alicia Keys and Zoë Kravitz.

In April the singer published a short story collection The Memory Librarian: And Other Stories from Dirty Computer, which “returns to the Afrofuturistic world of her critically acclaimed album”, which has become a New York Times bestseller.

A24 is the independent studio behind TV series Euphoria, and films The Souvenir, Moonlight, Good Time, American Honey, The Disaster Artist, Lady Bird, Climax, Midsommar and Uncut Gems. With such a buzzing package of studio, star and topic, the series is bound to be a scorcher.