All Articles Tagged "Queen Latifah"
We’ve been talking about this movie for months now. And tomorrow, you’ll finally be able to watch the story of legendary Blues singer Bessie Smith unfold. As someone who’s seen the film, I can tell you you’re in for a treat. Not only is it visually impeccable, the story and the performances are rich.
In anticipation of the television premiere of Bessie, we spoke to screenwriter and director for the project, Dee Rees, about how she approached the writing and directing of this piece and why it was so important for her to tell Bessie Smith’s story.
Though Rees is generations removed from the era when Bessie Smith toured and performed. She still had access.
“Bessie is someone who I kind of grew up with,” Rees said.
“My grandmother played her records, my mom played her. There’s this album that they had called One Mo Time, that was recorded from a 1979 a Black Vaudeville kind of sendup. And so that was something I remembered as a kid. So I was always curious about her life. She was a woman from Tennessee, a Black woman, a queer woman from Tennessee, who wasn’t afraid to be who she was.”
So when the she was approached with the opportunity to tell her story back in 2012, Rees said she “really wanted to get behind her eyes and see her worldview.”
But the process of obtaining information to do so wasn’t an easy one. Bessie Smith was born in the late 1800’s and government records at that time, particularly for Black people, weren’t always accurate, if they were kept at all.
Because she was born so long ago–even her birthdate, there’s no consensus–so the first thing I did was go to the public library and pull every book that I could find. And also there’s a book called “Blues Legacies and Black Feminism” by Angela Davis which is really, really great. It really conceptualizes Bessie. So I relied on that as my main text. I just did research. Even with the census records, there are three birth dates. Everything about this woman is in the gray area.
And while there wasn’t an abundance of information, Rees wanted to make sure the information she noted and eventually included in the film came from the primary source.
“I was careful to try to reconstruct her persona based on her voice versus what other people said about her,” Rees said. “So I would go to song lyrics, the songs that she herself wrote, not the songs others wrote for her and try to understand her personality, what she was interested in, what she was worried about. Because I think that the best way to know an artist is through their work. I started through her art to understand what was in her psyche.”
What she found and what was very prevalent in the movie was that Bessie Smith was very socially conscious and particularly concerned about the plight of Black people in this country. It was evidenced in Smith’s song lyrics.
“After a huge flood, she wrote one of her biggest hits, “Backwater Blues”. And she wrote that about the people who had been displaced. She was concerned the social ills of the time. She has a line that wasn’t in her recorded performance but one of her lines was “All my life I been making it, all my life White folks been taking it.” She was politically conscious. You know the Blues was an early form of social protest. She was very much interested in women’s empowerment even though her lyrics are misconstrued or over simplistically interpreted as misogynistic or encouraging domestic violence, by saying these things, she was creating a forum for women to be able to discuss these things. For her to be creating her art and putting forth the image she wanted to put forth, she was radical.”
In addition to her art, Bessie Smith was also herself when it came to her romantic life. She was in her prime at the turn of the century and during the “Roaring Twenties,” when living fast, loud and loose was something like the norm. Bessie Smith, as well as her mentor Ma Rainey, were very open with their sexualities. And while other historical accounts may gloss over this fact or speak about it briefly, it was important to Rees that Smith’s sexuality play a prevalent role in the story.
“Look how much she contributed. To suppress it would not make any sense. We wanted to talk about it in a real way and not in a scandalized way. That’s who she was. She was bisexual in a very matter of fact way.”
And for those who might not have known her personally, she put her sexuality in her lyrics too. In her 1930’s song, “The Boy in the Boat,” Smith says, “When you see two women walking hand in hand, just look ‘em over and try to understand: They’ll go to those parties—have the lights down low—only those parties where women can go.”
But Bessie’s music was more than just an expression of sexuality, it was an expression of the times. And, in many ways, her music, and Blues music in general, with its penchant for boldly telling the truth about Black life, was able to penetrate mainstream consciousness. The commercial success of her albums and eventually the radio play she received, introduced Black music and subsequently Black issues to White audiences. Black music would eventually include the songs of the Civil Rights Movement, used not only to unite and inspire the Black community but to inform Whites.
That’s what Rees wants audiences to take away from the film. The Black community owes a great debt to artists like Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. Their willingness to speak and sing candidly about being Black and female, opened doors.
Rees said, “These women’s work laid the foundation for the Civil Right’s Movement.” She wants audiences to note and respect the significance of their artistry but also show that Bessie Smith, who was the highest Black entertainer of her day, didn’t have to sacrifice who she was to make money or make a difference.
You can watch Bessie tomorrow, May 16 on HBO at 8 pm.
Every time I think about Queen Latifah, I think, you can’t hold a good woman down. Throughout her entire career, she has been the master of diversification. From rapper, to actress, to jazz singer, to talk-show host.
After taking off her talk-show host hat, Queen Latifah is donning the actress hat once again in the upcoming HBO film, Bessie. In the film, there’s a moment when Bessie Smith, played by Queen Latifah, sits naked.
Doing so in front of a movie crew, was a new experience for the 45-year-old renaissance woman.
In a recent interview with Uptown Magazine, Latifah said, “I’ve never done that before.” Still, she didn’t let the newness of the moment prevent her from getting the job done.
“I don’t find [this nude scene] any more uncomfortable than kissing a girl in ‘Set It Off’ and stick to the script. You have to take your mind off of yourself and honor that character. Respect Cleo, respect Bessie.”
Sexuality plays quite a significant role in Bessie’s life story, and so Uptown asked Latifah how she felt audiences would perceive Bessie’s bisexuality being played out so vividly on screen.
“I’m not really sure how people will feel about [Bessie’s bisexuality]. It’s not like it’s a secret with her story. She was just free.”
But back in the day, the idea of a free sexuality wasn’t as taboo as it is today. Latifah said, “People’s ideas in general are antiquated when it comes to who you love. We haven’t moved as quickly as we probably should. And the reality is that there’s always been gay people in the black community, so it’s not foreign to us. And not just as a black community but just a society as a whole…Who you choose to marry is really up to you and it’s not something you should be judged on. I don’t find being gay or lesbian to be a character flaw. Couples should be protected under the laws of this country period. It actually angers me. It’s not unusual to let’s be adults and let’s move forward.”
Before all the TV shows, movies, commercials, and endorsement deals came through, some Hollywood celebs had to wake up in the morning and get their customer service on like the rest of us. With jobs ranging from a Burger King cashier to a singing waitress on a cruise ship, these stars have paid their dues. Check out 15 celebs who went from being sales associates and food service workers to becoming Hollywood stars.
This looks like it will be a great movie ladies!
The first full length trailer of the upcoming HBO movie, Bessie has finally hit the internet. The trailer features a glimpse of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in the biopic.
Written and directed by the talented Dee Rees, the biopic follows Bessie’s journey from a struggling blue songstress into the “The Empress of the Blues,” becoming one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s.
The trailer also highlights the stellar cast, including Michael K. Williams, Monique, Mike Epps, Tika Sumpter, Tory Kittles, Charles S. Dutton and Mama Pope, Khandi Alexander.
The biopic will premiere on Saturday, May 16th at 8PM on HBO.
I would like to encourage all of our readers to watch the biopic. Not only does it tell the story of beautiful black woman’s journey, but also because Dee Rees is one of the few black female writer/directors of our generation!
We’ve already told you all how excited we are about the new HBO biopic Bessie, starring Queen Latifah in the lead role as the famed Blues singer and entertainer. And as we near the May 16 air date, more and more information about the cast and film keep popping up. And while we thought it was going to be good with the little information we’d been given earlier; now, we’re almost certain that this tv movie will be one to remember.
Not only has HBO released the trailer for the film, they’ve also included character spots from the very talented actors who will take part in the project including Tika Sumpter, who plays one of Bessie’s love interests, Michael Kenneth Williams, her overbearing husband Jack Gee, Khandi Alexander, her embittered older sister Viola and Mo’Nique, her mentor (and perhaps lover) Ma Rainey.
Meet the characters and the director Dee Rees on the following pages. Then watch the teaser for the film at the end.
You can’t keep a good woman down for too long. Even though Mo’Nique has been all over the news talking about being blackballed in the industry, it looks like things might be turning around in her favor.
Earlier, we reported that Queen Latifah was starring as Bessie Smith in the new HBO biopic, Bessie. She’ll also serve as executive producer for the project. And she’s bringing her crew with her.
The cast will include some of our absolute faves, like Michael K. Williams as Bessie’s husband, Khandi Alexander as her big sister, Mike Epps as a bootlegger and boot thang and Mo’Nique as Ma Rainey, a fellow Blues singer and Bessie’s rumored lover.
The movie will chronicle Bessie’s successes, the affair with Rainey and her struggles with alcoholism.
Supporting cast includes Mike Epps, Tika Sumpter and Charles Dutton.
Sounds like this will be a winner.
Directed by Dee Rees, (Pariah), Bessie will air on HBO on May 16.
Yup, it’s happening, again. I know we previously reported a Barbershop 3 was in the works, but forreal this time!
According to Deadline, a Barbershop 3 is currently in development. The threequel will come 11 years after the sequel of the movie.
The site is reporting, They’re still barbering his deal, but MGM is hiring The Best Man franchise director Malcolm D. Lee to direct Barbershop 3, the sequel that is coming together fast with deals being made for Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainerto reprise their roles. Cube Vision is producing. Bob Teitel and George Tillman Jr. of State Street Pictures are the lead producers. Script is by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver.
The first movie and the sequel made $140 Million combined. We’re also sure studio executives are inspired by the success of movies like Ride Along and The Best Man Holiday. I would love to see if characters like Michael Ealy and Eve, make an appearance in the film.
What do you guys think? Are they fooling us AGAIN? Would you go see it? If you would, who would you want to see star in it?
Queen Latifah And Rumored Girlfriend Eboni Nichols Enjoy Helicopter Ride And Sushi Date In Rio [Photos]
The first time Queen Latifah was spotted out with rumored partner, Eboni Nichols, was last summer. The two were snapped in Italy playing poolside, dining together, and even sharing a kiss while photogs took pictures from afar. It was also the first time that anyone had seen Latifah comfortable enough to share kisses in public, though she had been photographed getting pretty cozy with rumored ex Jeanette Jenkins while vacationing off the coast of France with Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz some years back.
Latifah, 44, was snapped stepping out for another vacation with Nichols, and this time, they set their sights on Brazil. The pair did a helicopter ride so that they could sightsee in Rio de Janeiro yesterday, and were also photographed enjoying sushi and great conversation together on Monday night in the city. Nichols, 36, according to the Daily Mail, is a choreographer who had a small role in Dreamgirls (see below, second to the left).
This is the second vacay of the year for the pair, who rang in 2015 on the beach in Miami. While we don’t have any pics from that fun time, we have plenty from their big trip to Rio. Check them out below and on the next page.
Despite the cancellation of her talk show, Queen Latifah seems to be full of the Christmas spirit. The Queen Latifah show couldn’t have been canceled at a more inopportune time, with the holidays right around the corner.
But her staff won’t have to worry too much because, according to E! News, Latifah is paying her show’s crew throughout the holidays. And get this, she’s doing so with her own money, even though production itself has shut down.
We did have an indication that Queen loved her staff. Last month, when it was announced that the show was being canceled, Latifah issued this message from her Facebook page.
“Your dedication and sacrifice was crucial to the entire team, and in the face of intense challenges, you displayed ‘True Grit’!’ Thank you for your strong work ethic and great effort in getting The Queen Latifah Show off the ground and running.
Your Family, Partners, Staff and Crew showed up with you every step of the way. Be very proud of that! Not everyone can say the same,” the message continued. “You can also say you have been a blessing to and been blessed by amazing guests and incredible audiences for this show. We truly changed people’s lives for the better. So…stay positive, stay strong, and most important, stay open…There is so much more God has in store! This letter is for me, my staff, my crew, and everyone who was by my side for this incredible journey. The most important thing in life is that you wake up every single day and take chances. No matter what the outcome…believe in yourself and continue to fly.”
Original episodes of the show will continue to air until March.
We already loved Queen Latifah but this right here…salute.
Queen Latifah built her career on telling people what labels not to apply to her, which is why the woman of many talents is fed up with the way the United States handles race. When we asked Queen how she feels about her accomplishments always being prefaced with the Black woman label, she said it’s a disgrace to the United States as a country that matters of race she saw play out as a child are still issues today as a grown woman, stating plainly that it’s time for us to get real with ourselves about race and how we treat one another. Check out her full comments in the video above. Do you agree?