Thanks to HBO Films and Queen Latifah the story of blues singer Bessie Smith is finally coming to a small screen near you this spring.
HBO Films announced that Oscar nominee Queen Latifah would star as legendary blues singer Bessie Smith in the film Bessie which will debut in Spring 2015. The film’s screenplay was written by Christopher Cleveland and Bettina Gilois along with Bessie’s director Dee Rees. Rees directed the Sundance Film Festival hit Pariah. The story is by playwright Horton Foote and Rees.
According to the HBO press release, “the film focuses on Smith’s transformation from a struggling young singer into “The Empress of the Blues,” one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s and an enduring icon today. Bessie offers an intimate look at the 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 cast includes HBO’s Boardwalk Empire alum, Michael Kenneth Williams as Bessie’s husband, Jack; HBO’s Treme alumna Khandi Alexander as Bessie’s older sister, Voila; HBO’s True Detective alum Tory Kittles as Bessie’s older brother, Clarence; HBO’s How to Make It in America star, Bryan Greenberg as record producer and music critic John Hammond, along with Mike Epps, Tika Sumpter, Oliver Platt, Charles S. Dutton, and Oscar winner Mo’Nique as blues legend Ma Rainey.
Getting Bessie made has been 22 years in the making. Horton Foote wrote the first draft and when Queen Latifah had just began her acting career in the late 80’s/early 90’s she was sought out by producers Richard D. Zanuck and Lili Fini Zanuck to take on the role of Bessie Smith. Queen Latifah states, “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.”
Below is the initial announcement that the @HBO Twitter account tweeted to state that Bessie was coming in 2015:
Along with the announcement today that Bessie will air in Spring 2015:
— HBO (@HBO) January 8, 2015
We will keep you informed of all thing Bessie and don’t forget to follow HBO’s official Twitter account.
[Featured Image Courtesy @HBO]