Watch: Queen Latifah to play bisexual blues singer Bessie Smith
Queen Latifah is stepping into the shoes of legendary blues singer Bessie Smith for an upcoming HBO film.
The Chicago star will feature as the 1920s singer in the upcoming drama Bessie, from director Dee Rees, which charts the life of Smith.
Despite two marriages to men – Jack Gee and Richard Morgan – Smith had a string of female lovers – and according to Queerty she even referenced them in her music.
The singer became the highest-paid black musician of her day, earning the moniker “Empress of the Blues” before her death in a car crash in 1937.
The drama also stars Mo’Nique as fellow singer Ma Rainey, who openly sang about her sexuality in song ‘Prove It on Me’.
Queen Latifah said: “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.”
HBO said in a 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.”
Bessie will air on May 16 in the US.
Watch the trailer below: