HBO released a cast list and other details on its upcoming film Bessie a biopic of blues legend Bessie Smith with Queen Latifah in the title role and it includes a host of popular Black acting talents.
The singer, rapper and daytime talk show host will also executive produce the project, which originates from HBO Films.
Co-stars include Michael K. Williams (Boardwalk Empire) as Bessie’s husband Jack; Khandi Alexander (Scandal) as Bessie’s big sister, Viola; Mike Epps as Richard, a bootlegger and romantic interest; Tika Sumpter (Tyler Perry’s The Haves and Have Nots) as Lucille, a performer and romantic interest; Tory Kittles (True Detective) as Bessie’s older brother Clarence; Oliver Platt as fame photographer and writer Carl Van Vechten; Charles Dutton as Ma Rainey’s husband, William “Pa” Rainey; and Oscar winner Mo’Nique as blues legend Ma Rainey.
Written and directed by Dee Rees, the movie will focus on Smith’s transformation from a struggling young singer into ‘Empress of the Blues’ and one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s,” a statement from HBO indicates.
Filming will take place in Atlanta for a 2015 premiere.