Queen Latifah is back!
Following her stellar performance in HBO original movie “Life Support”, which won her the Golden Globe Award and Screen Actor Guild Award, Latifah is now back in a new HBO original movie.
The actress will star in “BESSIE“, a movie based on the legendary blues singer Bessie Smith. It will focus on her transformation from a struggling young singer into one of the more influential jazz vocalists of the century.
Even till this day, Smith is regarded as one of the greatest singer of the era and has been given the title of “The Empress of the Blues” by fans. Throughout the years, she has served as an inspiration for a handful of celebrated and renowned singers, such as Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, and Nina Simone.
I have been excited about this project since the very beginning. When HBO got involved, we were thrilled and we worked together to make something that would capture Bessie’s life honestly and respectfully.
However, not a lot of youth know about the singer as she hails from a different era. Fret not, because HBO will be premiering “BESSIE” on 17th May (Sunday) at 10pm via HBO/HBO HD (Astro Channel 411/431).
The official synopsis is as follows:
“BESSIE” offers an intimate look at Bessie Smith, a determined woman whose immense talent and love for music took her from anonymity in the rough-and-tumble world of vaudeville, to the 1920s blues scene and international fame. Capturing Bessie’s professional highs and personal lows, the film paints a portrait of a tenacious spirit who, despite her own demons, became a celebrated legend.
The movie will star Latifah in the titular role, with Michael Kenneth Williams as Smith’s husband Jack, Khandi Alexander as Smith’s older sister Viola, Mika Epps as Smith’s love interest Richard, and Tory Kittles as Smith’s older brother Clarence.
Additional cast include Tika Sumpter, Oliver Platt, Bryan Greenberg, Mo’Nique, and Charles S. Dutton. They will take up the role of performer Lucille, photographer and writer Carl Van Vechten, renowned record producer and music critic John Hammond, blues legend Ma Rainey, and Ma Rainey’s husband William Rainey, all of whom have influenced Smith at some point in her life.
The original movie was directed and written by Dee Rees, an acclaimed filmmaker who directed “Pariah” and “Eventual Salvation”. The movie, which has been in production for 22 years, is produced by Richard Zanuck and Lili Fini Zanuck. Latifah is also the executive producer, along with Shakim Compere.
If you missed the premiere, you can catch a re-run on 20th May (Wednesday) at 11.50pm and 30th May (Saturday) at 12.30am. It will also be available on Astro On The Go from 25th May onwards.
Watch the trailer below: