HBO is premiering the Bessie Smith biopic, Bessie, starring Queen Latifah on Saturday May 16th at 8 p.m (EST/PST), according to Billboard. The film will focus on how Smith rose from turbulence to become the Empress of Blues during the 1920s. Latifah re-recorded some of Smith’s songs for the film and they are expected to be released on the soundtrack.
At the Televisions Critics Association Winter Press Tour last month, the former talk show host revealed that she was offered to play the late Smith 22 years ago but passed on it because she didn’t have enough life experience to prepare her for such a role.
“When the project came my way, I don’t think I had the life journey that went along with it,” said the New Jersey native. “I got to live more of the blues,” she said.
She says she took the role because of her admiration for the blues.
“The blues, the blues, I’ve gained such a great amount of respect for the blues … The blues are just as stunning to me now as when this first came to me. If anything, I feel like I have a little more of the story of what Bessie had to say.”
The film also stars Mo’Nique, Khandi Alexander, Michael Kenneth Williams, Mike Epps and Charles S. Dutton.