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How Queen Latifah Brought 'Bessie' To Life

By Genevieve Burgess | Miscellaneous | May 16, 2015 |

By Genevieve Burgess | Miscellaneous | May 16, 2015 |

Most of you know that I like to tell you whats on TV during the week. I don’t usually during the weekend, but I wanted to make sure I mentioned that HBO’s Bessie starring Queen Latifah and Mo’Nique will be premiering tonight at 8pm. Here’s the trailer:

It’s taken a long time for this film to be made, the LA Times review notes that Latifah first auditioned for the role of Bessie Smith in 1992 before eventually taking control of the project herself. In another interview with Mo’Nique and writer-director Dee Rees, Queen Latifah talks about how auditioning for Bessie in the early 90s actually helped her find the blues star and develop an interest and then a passion in her story.

The film takes the usual creative liberties with Smith’s life, but doesn’t gloss over the more difficult aspects like her drinking, drug use, or contentious relationships with men and women. It also doesn’t depict Smith’s death, a decision they made due to the many accounts already out there about how she died.

Queen Latifah is older than Bessie Smith was when she died, but from the clips of her singing she seems to capture Smith’s style well. Here’s Bessie herself for comparison:

Mostly, though, it looks like an interesting and entertaining movie and I wanted to remind you all that it exists and you should watch it.