Whether she was portraying NASA mathemetician Mary Jackson in Hidden Figures or African-American activist Dorothy Pitman Hughes in The Glorias, multi-faceted and dynamic performer Janelle Monáe has a specific affinity for portraying women that changed the course of history. She is about to do that all over again, but this time, she might be able to showcase her musical abilities as well. Deadline reports that Monáe will be portraying landmark entertainer Josephine Baker in De La Resistance. The series will focus specifically on Baker’s time spent during World War 2 as a French Resistance spy for the Allies. Currently, streaming services are vying for the project, which is coming directly from A24 and Monáe’s own production house Wondaland.
For Monáe, she has been manifesting this role since a 2019 tweet, when she simply wrote “MY QUEEN” in response to a tweet acknowledging Baker’s birthday. Additionally when the announcement officially dropped that she would be portraying Bakker on-screen, the Dirty Computer songstress tweeted out “A dream finally coming to life🖤my hero🥺🖤long live MADAM JOSEPHINE BAKER🖤let’s gooooooooooo”. As an homage to Baker, Monáe’s Met Gala look was patterned specifically after Baker this year for the Gilded Glamour theme, where she sparkled in Ralph Lauren.
In Baker’s own career, she dismantled boundaries in the same fashion that Monáe has managed to do. Based primarily in Europe, her 1927 performance in the revue Un vent de folie caused a Parisian sensation. A costume made of only a short skirt of artificial bananas along with a beaded necklace, became an unofficial symbol both of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties. Bakker went on to be active in the French Resistance during WWII, receiving multiple accolades from French leader General Charles de Gaulle. A staunch advocate, Bakker consistently refused to perform for segregated audiences in America, and went on to receive a leadership offer from Dr. Martin Luther King’s widow Coretta Scott King following Dr. King’s assassination. Several months ago, Josephine Baker received one of France’s highest honors, being added to the Panthéon in France. Bakker is also the first person born in the United States to be added to the Parisian monument.
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