Janelle Monáe will be starring as the iconic Josephine Baker in an upcoming television series, De La Resistance. The drama series is about Baker’s role as a spy for the French Resistance as well as her legendary career in France, Deadline reported. De La Resistance doesn’t have a home network yet and streaming services are going head to head in a fight to get this series.
Josephine Baker, who was the first Black woman to star in a major film titled Siren Of The Tropics, is one of the most acclaimed artists of the Jazz Age. She was born Freda Josephine McDonald in poverty stricken St. Louis in 1906. When she turned 19, she went to Europe to escape the horrors of the Jim Crow Era. While in Paris, she worked as a burlesque dancer. Her name began to ring bells after she gave a performance in nothing but a banana skirt and pearls around her neck in the Un Vent de Folie revue in 1927. Once she launched her acting and singing career, she became Europe’s highest paid entertainer.
In 1939, Jacques Abtey, the head of France’s military intelligence, summoned Baker to be a spy to help gather information about the Nazis during World War II. Because Baker was so famous by that time, Abtey thought she would be the perfect spy because no one would be suspicious of a celebrity.
“Of course I wanted to do all I could to aid France, my adopted country but an overriding consideration, the thing that drove me as strongly as did patriotism, was my violent hatred of discrimination in any form.,” Baker told Ebony in 1973.
Her tours would double as missions where she would take photos and hide them in her dress and take notes about the German troops in invisible ink on sheet music. She would also scribble notes and attach them to her bra with a safety pin.
“My notes would have been highly compromising had they been discovered, but who would dare search Josephine Baker to the skin?” she wrote in the book Surprising Spies: Unexpected Heroes of World War II. “When they asked me for papers, they generally meant autographs.”
During Baker’s career, she was also active in the civil rights movement. She didn’t tolerate segregation and refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States.
This is another impressive gig to add to Monáe’s resume. Her other acting credits include Hidden Figures, Moonlight, Harriet, Antebellum and Rio 2.
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