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Paula Patton has optioned film and television rights to Josephine Baker’s Last Dance, a novel by Sherry Jones, with the aim of starring in and producing an adaptation.
Baker was the Jazz Age icon who rose from the slums of St. Louis to become the toast of Europe. She also was an undercover agent for the French resistance during World War II and later in life became a civil rights activist.
Baker left America for France while in her 20s, finding almost instant success as a chanteuse and dancer who was willing to push many envelopes, gaining the attention of Ernest Hemingway, Picasso and others. During the war, her celebrity allowed her to move easily through high-class social circles and gather information from Axis officials.
After the war and now a hero, Baker’s career was a mix of highs and lows as she made returns to the U.S., refusing to perform at clubs where audiences were segregated and using her fame to work with the NAACP. She was the only woman to stand alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and speak at the 1963 March on Washington. Her life and work have been influences on modern celebrities such as Beyonce and Angelina Jolie.
Jones’ biographical novel was published in December 2018 by Simon & Schuster imprint Gallery Books and praised for capturing a journey of heartbreak and empowerment.
“Josephine Baker had an incredible life and was a remarkable woman,” Patton said Monday in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
A search for writers to adapt the material is underway.
Patton last starred in the 2018 thriller Traffik and on the ABC series Somewhere Between. She is known for her work in such movies as The Do-Over, Warcraft, and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Patton is repped by ICM Partners, Management Entertainment and Ziffren Brittenham.
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