Meet The Stars Behind The HBO “Bessie” Biopic

March 19, 2015  |  
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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.

Buckle up.

Queen Latifah as Bessie 

Tika Sumpter as Lucille

Mo’Nique as Ma Rainey

Michael K. Williams as Jack Gee

Mike Epps as Richard

Khandi Alexander as Viola 

Tory Kittles as Clarence 

Dee Rees on Directing Bessie

You may remember Dee Rees’ name, and perhaps even her face, when her critically acclaimed film Pariah, hit the big screens. The director, mentored by Spike Lee, is looking to add even more successes under her belt in taking on the complex and layered story of legendary Blues singer Bessie Smith.

In a recent interview with the Director’s Guild of America Rees explains that Bessie and her relationships are of particular importance in this story:

“I’m interested in characters and relationships,” she says. “That was my approach to telling the story—not to fall into the typical biopic tropes. I wanted to understand why Bessie was the way she was. The thematic idea is that what is very beautiful from afar is often very painful from close up.”

You can watch the trailer of the upcoming biopic in the video below.

Bessie premieres on HBO on Saturday, May 16 at 8 pm.

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