One of the most anticipated television films of the year, HBO’s Bessie, has released not just a teaser trailer but seven character clips for the upcoming event movie.
The film, which debuts this summer, focuses on legendary blues singer Bessie Smith’s (Queen Latifah) transformation from a struggling young singer into “The Empress of the Blues,” one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s and an enduring icon today.
Ten-time Black Reel Award nominee, Latifah leads a talented cast, which also co-stars Michael Kenneth Williams as Bessie’s husband, Jack Gee; Khandi Alexander as Bessie’s older sister, Viola; Tory Kittles as Bessie’s older brother, Clarence; Mike Epps as Richard, a bootlegger and romantic interest; Tika Sumpter as Lucille, a performer and romantic interest; Oliver Platt as famed photographer and writer Carl Van Vechten; Bryan Greenberg as renowned record producer and music critic John Hammond; with Charles S. Dutton as Ma Rainey’s husband, William “Pa” Rainey; and Oscar winner Mo’Nique as blues legend Ma Rainey.
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Black Reel Awards nominated director Dee Rees (Pariah) also co-wrote the film’s screenplay with Christopher Cleveland and Bettina Gilois, based on a story by Rees and Horton Foote. Bessie is executive produced by Richard D. Zanuck, Lili Fini Zanuck, Latifah, Shakim Compere, Shelby Stone and Randi Michel. Ron Schmidt produces.
Bessie debuts on Saturday, May 16 at 8pm on HBO
Check out the teaser trailer and listen to cast members discuss their characters in their character clips, below: