Queen Latifah has been tapped to play the lead role in an upcoming HBO film focusing on the life of Blues legend, Bessie Smith. With the working title of Bessie, the film is based on Smith’s rise in music and on the biography which shares the name with movie.
According to Deadline, this isn’t the first time Queen Latifah has been pegged for the Bessie Smith role but now the actress and business executive feels better prepared.
The Zanucks first brought a project about Bessie Smith to Queen Latifah 22 years ago, Latifah said today at Winter TV Press Tour 2015. She was just 22 years old. She is in a much better position to play the role now, she insisted. “If anything I came to have a little more story,” at age 44, Latifah explained. “When the project came my way, I don’t think I had the life journey that went along with it. I got to live more of the blues.”
Bessie will no doubt focus on the turbulent life of Smith, who endured several personal hardships on her way to becoming one of the premier vocalists of her time. Smith’s life was tragically cut short after suffering injuries in a car crash. She was 43 at the time of her passing.
Award-winning director Dee Rees wrote the script and is the film’s director. This marks a return for Rees to film making on a large scale after the warm reception her 2011 feature release, Pariah, received from critics and moviegoers.
Latifah and Shakim Compere’s Flavor Unit Management company will serve as producers for the film alongside the Zanuck Company.
There has not been a release date set for Bessie.