Watch: Teaser Trailer for HBO’s Bessie Smith Biopic Starring Queen Latifah
Directed by Dee Rees (Pariah), Bessie intimately captures the life, rise to international fame, and personal heartbreaks of the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s.
The cast includes Michael K. Williams as Bessie’s husband, Jack Gee; Khandi Alexander as Bessie’s older sister, Viola; Mike Epps as Richard, a bootlegger and romantic interest; Tika Sumpter as Lucille, a performer and romantic interest; Tory Kittles as Bessie’s older brother, Clarence; Oliver Platt as famed photographer and writer Carl Van Vechten; Bryan Greenberg as renowned record producer and music critic John Hammond; Mo’Nique as blues legend Ma Rainey and Charles S. Dutton as Ma Rainey’s husband, William “Pa” Rainey.
“Bessie has been 22 years in the making,” says HBO. “The first draft was written by playwright Horton Foote. Queen Latifah was approached by producers Richard and Lili Fini Zanuck to take on the role of Bessie when she was just launching her acting career. She eventually came on board as an executive producer, along with producing partner Shakim Compere.”
Enjoy previews and movie stills below, and be sure to save the date for the premiere of Bessie on HBO on Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 8:00 pm.