Paula Patton to produce and star in new Josephine Baker biopic

Paula Patton
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 18: Paula Patton visits Build to discuss the movie “Sacrifice” at Build Studio on December 18, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Actress Paula Patton will produce and star in a biopic movie about the legendary entertainer Josephine Baker.

Patton reportedly optioned film and television rights to Josephine Baker’s Last Dance, a biographical novel by Sherry Jones. Patton plans to turn the book into TV and/or film productions, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“Josephine Baker had an incredible life and was a remarkable woman,” Patton said 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.”

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Baker was a legendary Jazz Age icon who was born in poverty in St. Louis and grew up in the projects. She attained  tremendous fame as a jazz singer and sultry dancer on an international level. While in her 20s, Baker left a segregated America for France and she made it famous there for her risqué performances and because of Europe’s appreciation of jazz. She even attracted attention from other artistic giants like Ernest Hemingway and Picasso, according to Hollywood Reporter.

While in Paris, she once served as an undercover agent for the French resistance during World War II.  Baker’s star standing allowed her access into many different social circles where she was able to collect information from Axis officials.

When World War II was over and Baker was at the top of her game, she made visits back to the United States to perform and participate in civil rights activism. Baker also worked with the NAACP, and was the only woman who stood beside Martin Luther King Jr. and spoke during the 1963 March on Washington.

Jones’ biographical novel was released in December 2018 by Simon & Schuster imprint Gallery Books.

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Baker’s life was captured in 1991 in HBO’s The Josephine Baker Story, in which Lynn Whitfield starred in and received a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special.

Patton, who is represented by ICM Partners, Management Entertainment and Ziffren Brittenham, was last seen in the 2018 movie Traffik and on the ABC series Somewhere Between. She has also acted in The Do-Over, Warcraft, and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

Patton’s team is now searching for writers to adapt the book for film.