Janelle Monáe Admired Josephine Baker For Years Before Playing Her on TV in ‘De La Resistance’

Musician, actor, and author Janelle Monáe has shown over the past decade that she can do much more than just create good music. She can embody a character on screen in movies like Moonlight and Hidden Figures and communicate their essence with her performance. For her latest project, the “Q.U.E.E.N.” singer will be playing the iconic Josephine Baker.

Janelle Monáe wearing black and white at the Met Gala
Janelle Monáe | Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

Janelle Monáe will play Josephine Baker in A24’s ‘De La Resistance’

In May 2022, Janelle Monáe as announced as the star of A24’s new TV series De La Resistance. The show will chronicle the life of actor and spy Josephine Baker.

After launching her career in the United States in the early 20th century, Baker emigrated to France and soon became an internationally-recognized performer. In 1927, she became the first Black woman to star in a major motion picture, Siren of the Tropics. Her performance in the revue Un Vent de Folie that same year became a worldwide sensation: her outfit, consisting of a short skirt of artificial bananas and a beaded necklace, became an iconic image and a symbol both of the Jazz Age and Roaring Twenties.

At the outbreak of World War II, Baker joined the French Resistance and worked in espionage both in France and in its African colonies. She was honored by France for her work during the war.

Janelle Monáe has looked up to Josephine Baker for years

Since the beginning of her career, Janelle Monáe has cited Josephine Baker as one of her influences. In a 2019 tweet, she commented “My QUEEN” in a post about Baker. And when the news was announced that she would be playing the legendary performer, Monáe was over the moon.

“A dream finally coming to life,” she said, calling Baker “my hero.” “Long live MADAM JOSEPHINE BAKER. Let’s gooooooooooo!”

De La Resistance was created by Jennifer Yale, known for her work on See, Outlander, and Underground; Yale will also serve as showrunner for the series. A24 has largely remained a film studio, but in recent years has ramped up its production of TV series, including Ramy, Ziwe, and the hit HBO show Euphoria.

RELATED: Diana Ross Pushed for a Josephine Baker Biopic for Three Years, but the Role Ultimately Went to Another Actor

Josephine Baker’s life after WWII

Following her time serving in World War II, Baker was bestowed multiple honors by French leader General Charles de Gaulle.

Baker later became active in the civil rights movement in the 1950s and ’60s, even all the way from France. She famously refused to perform for segregated audiences every time she came to America, and stood up for Black people in both her country of origin and her adopted country. Following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, his wife, Coretta Scott King, even offered Baker a leadership role in the civil rights movement to help carry on his legacy in the US and abroad.

RELATED: Janelle Monáe Revealed the Real Meaning Behind Her New Song, ‘Turntables’