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HBO Biopic ‘Bessie’ Stars Queen Latifah As Blues Singer

Presented by HBO Films, Queen Latifah plays legendary blues singer Bessie Smith in Bessie. Check out the teaser below.

Remember when Queen Latifah was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in Chicago? This woman is an incredibly underrated actress and entertainer, which makes me that much more excited for Bessie. The all-star cast also includes The Wire and Boardwalk Empire‘s Michael Kenneth Williams as Bessie’s husband, Jack Gee. Bessie’s bisexuality will be explored in the movie, with Tika Sumpter playing Lucille, a love interest. Academy Award winner Mo’Nique plays Ma Rainey, one of the earliest known blues singers who was nicknamed “The Mother of the Blues” and becomes a mentor to Bessie in the movie.

The first 30-second tease features Queen Latifah singing a cover of Bessie Smith’s “Long Old Road.” Variety interviewed Queen Latifah about the role last year.

[Bessie] tells the life of Bessie Smith, who was a great blues singer, one of the greatest of her time. The first to play in front of an integrated audience, the highest paid entertainer of her time. She took down so many barriers and really brought blues to a national and international level, initially in the 1930s. She was an incredible woman and I wanted to tell her story. This is a project that’s been 22 years in the making and we finally found the right script and the right team and HBO, and I’m excited for people to see it.

Bessie is directed by Dee Rees (Pariah) and stars Queen Latifah, Michael Kenneth Williams, Tika Sumpter, Mo’Nique, Khandi Alexander, Mike Epps, Tory Kittles, Bryan Greenberg, and Oliver Platt. The screenplay was written by Rees, Christopher Cleveland and Bettina Gilois.

Check out these character spots, as well.

Bessie premieres on HBO on Saturday, May 16.