Paula Patton has optioned both the film and television rights to Sherry Jones’ novel, Josephine Baker’s Last Dance, with the goal of starring in and producing an adaptation of it. A writer to script the adaptation is currently being sought.
Baker, a dancer, singer and actress, who gained fame in Paris, France, due to her cabaret and musical hall performances, was born Freda Josephine McDonald, in St. Louis, Missouri.
While she did perform on screen in a number of films, notably Siren of the Tropic, Zouzou, and Princesse Tam Tam, she is more universally recognized for her vaudeville stage musical acts which helped her become what many may deem the first international Black female celebrity. Baker was also politically active, making contributions to the civil rights movement here in the United States, and assisted the French Resistance during World War II, becoming the first American-born woman to receive the French military honor, the Croix de Guerre. She died on April 12, 1975, at age 68.
This would be the second project on Baker. The 1991 HBO movie, The Josephine Baker Story, starred Lynn Whitfield as Baker, alongside Louis Gossett Jr. and Rubén Blades. Whitfield won an Emmy for the role. Prior to this, Diana Ross had attempted to get a Baker project off the ground but it didn’t come to fruition. A few years ago, Noosa Films won the rights to Baker’s autobiography from its French publishers, Editions Robert Laffont. Unfortunately, nothing ever came of the project.
There are also two documentaries on the talented artist: Josephine Baker: Black Diva in a White Man’s World and Josephine Baker – The First Black Superstar.
“Josephine Baker had an incredible life and was a remarkable woman,” Patton said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, who first broke the news. “It’s been a childhood dream of mine to play such an inspirational person and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to tell her story.”
Patton will star in the upcoming BET+ project, Sacrifice.
Photo: Getty Images
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