Tania de Montaigne is a French journalist, actress, singer, playwright, and author who is best known for her books Noire: La vie méconnue de Claudette Colvin (2015) and L’assignation : les Noirs n’existe pas (2018).
Tania de Montaigne was born on Friday, December 24, 1971 (age 50 years; as of 2021), in Paris, France. She spent her early childhood in Draveil, Essonne, in the southern suburbs of Paris, France. Tania was raised by her mother and maternal grandmother. Till the age of six, she grew up at her maternal grandmother’s house and was later enrolled in a nearby school.
Tania first encountered racism during her school days. Growing up as a black girl in an all-white society with an absent father made Tania’s childhood dreadful. While recounting a memory in which she talked to her grandmother about racism, in an interview, Tania said,
When I heard: “Ah, she’s black, so she’s dirty”, my grandmother said to me: “What do you think all these people are looking for in the summer? They seek to be black.”
As her mother was barely literate, she assured Tania received the finest education, but she also made sure to make Tania independent. In an interview, while talking about her childhood, Tania said,
My mother didn’t study, and it was very important to her that I did. But her method was special: she wanted me to be autonomous, independent. She never intervened. Today, I realize how lucky that was. At the time, I would have liked her to pick me up like other mothers, with a little snack. I didn’t understand why she wasn’t there.”
When Tania was 17, her mother enrolled her in a dance and theater class in Avignon, France. In an interview, while recounting her humble unprivileged background, Tania said,
I grew up in an environment where there was no money. I only went to camp for the holidays. We were a group of young people who had never been to the theater or to this festival.”
She was first introduced to the theater in the forecourt of Palais des Papes, Avignon, where she was enchanted by the five-hour-long Patrice Chéreau’s theatrical production ‘Hamlet.’ During her college days, she was intrigued by the literary works of French authors Guy de Maupassant and Émile Zola. She learned German and Latin languages during her high school days. Later, she took admission in another high school in Essonne, Athis-Mons, where she started learning Russian. In the Russian class, which had students with diverse ethnic backgrounds, Tania finally felt that she fitted in. She pursued a Baccalauréat littéraire. Thereafter, she registered for the preparatory course to enroll in The Paris Institute of Political Studies (commonly referred to as Sciences Po). MADININ’ART Thereafter, she studied political science at EHESS (École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, meanwhile working as a waitress. Atlantide
Height (approx.): 5′ 6″
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Black
Tania’s grandmother was born in Guadeloupe, and her mother hails from Martinique. Tania’s father has an American-Congolese origin. MADININ’ART Initially, her mother worked as a shorthand writer, later, she was hired by Aéroports de Paris (ADP). Although, Tania thought that her father was dead since childhood, much later in life, she discovered that her father was alive. When her parents made an acquaintance her father was working in a band. Tania reunited with her musician father in 2010. Thereafter, he recorded Tania’s first album.
After earning her five-year-long education, meanwhile working at different odd jobs, Tania went for her first job interview for the position of a parliamentary attaché but failed to secure it. Thereafter, one of Tania’s friends, who was working at the French radio network Europe 1, offered her a job. Then, she met Catherine Malaval, editor-in-chief and producer at Canal J, who was sought someone to present a daily program that aimed at children. At that time, Tania, who was a volunteer in school support at the Draveil social center, turned out to be a perfect fit for the job and passed the Canal J castings. Soon after, she signed a contract with the French TV channel Canal+ after being approached by Jérôme Bonaldi, a French journalist and TV presenter who was then working for Canal+. With her Canal+ contract, she was able to raise a loan and buy an apartment for her mother. On Canal+, she worked as a columnist in the French entertainment program ‘Nulle part ailleurs’ in 1994.
On the French public radio channel France Inter, she worked as a presenter for the program ‘Ouvert la nuit’ in 2012.
As an Author
Her book ‘Les Caractères Sexuels’ (2009) won a prize for Best Afro-Caribbean Arts Novel.
In April 2018, she published the essay ‘L’assignation : les Noirs n’existe pas,’ for which she received the Prix Botul (2018) and Prix de la laïcité (2018).
For her book, Noire: La vie méconnue de Claudette Colvin (2015), Tania de Montaigne received the Simone Veil prize in the same year. In the following year, she became a finalist of the Grand Prize for readers of ELLE 2016. The biographical book featured the story of Claudette Colvin. An American pioneer of the 1950s American civil rights movement and retired nurse aide, Colvin was arrested on March 2, 1955, at the age of 15, in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give up her seat to a white woman on a crowded bus.
In 2016, she co-wrote the book ‘Nous n’avons pas fini de nous aimer,’ along with Danielle Mérian. In January 2019, a comic adaptation of the book Noire: La vie méconnue de Claudette Colvin (2015) was published collaboratively by Emilie Plateau and Tania de Montaigne.
Tania de Montaigne also wrote a monthly column in the newspaper ‘Liberation.’
Writings and novels
- Patch (2001)
- Tokyo c’est loin (2006)
- Les Caractères sexuels secondaires (2009)
- Toutes les familles ont un secret (2014)
- Noire (2015)
- Nous n’avons pas fini de nous aimer (2016)
- L’Assignation, Les Noirs n’existent pas (2018)
As a Playwright
She began her journey as a playwright with the theatrical production ‘Le Plus Beau Jour,’ which premiered at the Avignon Festival in 2013, with French actor Xavier Thiam in the lead role.
Noire: La vie méconnue de Claudette Colvin (2015) was adapted for a theatrical production at the Center Dramatique National d’Orléans in December 2016. Her another play ‘Là de’ was premiered in May 2017 at Ciné 13 as part of the “Mise en capsules” festival.
As an Actress
In 1998, she appeared on France 2’s ‘Les trente dernières minutes,’ which depicted behind-the-camera scenes and setbacks of television programs and its editorial staff like guests who do not come, dissensions in the team, audience demands, low budget, etc.
In 2020, she featured in Poésie (dans un monde de brutes). The series featured poetries of various artists in different languages and forms.
She played the role of Femme campagne in the 2017 French romantic drama film ‘Un beau soleil intérieur’ (Let the Sunshine In). The film follows a Parisian artist named Isabelle whose unsatisfying relationship with a married banker leads her to begin a series of other romantic relationships.
At the age of 48, Tania took to the stage at the Théâtre du Rond-Point to showcase the story of the African-American civil rights activist Claudette Colvin in the theatrical adaptation of her book ‘Noire: La vie méconnue de Claudette Colvin.’
As a Musician
In February 2010, she released her second album, La Clé.
In 2011, she voiced the song “Misunderstanding,” featured in the album ‘ A New York Thing Une aventure new-yorkaise’.
- Writer(s) (American): James Baldwin, David Sedaris
- Writer(s) (French): Guy de Maupassant, Marceline Loridan-Ivens, Blaise Pascal
- Novel(s): Bel-Ami by Guy de Maupassant, Et tu n’es pas revenu by Marceline Loridan-Ivens, Pensées by Blaise Pascal, Tout Nu by David Sedaris
- Film(s): A Serious Man (2009), Party Girl (2014), Birdman (2014)
- Music Album(s): Bach ‘s Cello Suites by Paul Tortelier,
- DJ (French): Le Professeur Inlassable
- Her name is Martiniquan i.e., it exhibits slavery and characteristic of the Caribbean island of Martinique, an overseas region of France. In an interview, while talking about her name, she said,
My name is Martinican, it comes directly from the history of slavery. Ever since I was little, people have always asked me if that’s my real name, it seems so strange to them that a black woman can call herself that.”
- On her first day of job at Canal+, the security blocked her for an hour at the entrance as they refused to believe that Tania was a host.
- She is a member of the 50/50 Collective, a French association that aims at promoting gender equality and diversity in cinema.