Janelle Monáe may have gone to the future on hit album Dirty Computer, but they are heading back in time for their next project. The Antebellum actor-singer will be embodying legendary entertainer and French Resistance agent Josephine Baker in the series De La Resistance, Deadline reports.
Produced by Monáe under their company Wondaland, the TV series will center “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.”
Born in St. Louis, Baker gained recognition for her performances in the chorus line on Broadway shows like Shuffle Along and The Chocolate Dandies. She achieved more fame when she started dancing in 1920s Paris, making a name for herself at the Folies Bergère. Baker’s Danse Sauvage—where she wore only a small skirt of bananas and a set of long pearl necklaces—became one of her most well-known acts. Making history, she would go on to be the first Black woman to star in a major feature film in the 1927 silent film Siren Of The Tropics.
During World War II, Baker joined French Intelligence as a spy, becoming a key figure in the French Resistance as she used her entertainer status to gather intel on the Axis countries. She was awarded many accolades for her work in helping France during the war, and she later became an activist for the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.
Jennifer Yale (Underground) is set as creator and showrunner for De La Resistance. Angela Gibbs will be an executive producer alongside Chuck Lightning, Mikael Moore, Nate Wonder and Dana Gills under the Wondaland banner. The series is based on Damien Lewis’ upcoming non-fiction book Agent Josephine: American Beauty, French Hero, British Spy. Lewis has signed on as co-executive producer.
Previously seen in Hidden Figures, Moonlight, and the Amazon series Homecoming, Monáe will next star as one of the many suspects in Rian Johnson’s anticipated sequel, Knives Out 2.