Mark those calendars for Sunday, May 16, because you’re going to want to witness why Queen Latifah just might score an Emmy nod for her turn as the legendary blues singer Bessie Smith. Produced by HBO Films, as it will air on all channels of the cable franchise, it is simply titled Bessie and will chronicle her rise to fame and her personal life’s highs and lows. The film will tackle many of Smith’s devastating issues, such as her battle with alcoholism, mental illness, a tumultuous marriage and concealment of her bisexuality, and, of course, it will also display her legendary talent.
Joining Latifah is a super top-notch cast that includes Mo’nique as fellow Blues icon Ma Rainey, Khandi Alexander as Smith’s older sister Viola, Mike Epps and Michael Kenneth Williams (of Boardwalk Empire fame) as her husband Jack Gee. And speaking of Boardwalk Empire, stylistically the film looks a lot like the acclaimed show, as Bessie is mainly set in the 1920s during Smith’s reign as “The Empress of the Blues.” Also look out for cameos from Tika Sumpter and Charles S. Dutton.
Bessie is directed by Dee Rees, whose first film Pariah was an independent film hit, and the script was written by Rees, Christopher Cleveland and Bettina Gilois.
This is gonna be epic! Watch the trailer above and if you can’t get HBO within the next month, you better start kissing up to your friends and family for use of that HBOGO pass now!