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"Bessie" (TV movie) is a film, written and directed by Dee Rees ("Pariah"), that stars Oscar nominee Queen Latifah ("Chicago") as legendary blues singer Bessie Smith. The movie focuses on Smith's 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.

The talented cast includes Michael Kenneth Williams ("Boardwalk Empire"; "12 Years a Slave") as Bessie's husband, Jack; Khandi Alexander
"Bessie" (TV movie) cast member Queen Latifah
Bessie (TV movie) cast member Queen Latifah
("Scandal," "Treme") as Bessie's older sister, Viola; Mike Epps ("The Hangover," "Soul Men") as Richard, a bootlegger and romantic interest; Tika Sumpter ("Ride Along," "Sparkle") as Lucille, a performer and romantic interest; Tory Kittles ("True Detectiv,e" "Olympus Has Fallen") as Bessie's older brother, Clarence; Oliver Platt ("X-Men: First Class," "Fargo," "Chef") as famed photographer and writer Carl Van Vechten; Bryan Greenberg ("Friends with Benefits," "How to Make It in America") as renowned record producer and music critic John Hammond; with Charles S. Dutton ("Longmire," "Alien 3") as Ma Rainey's husband, William "Pa" Rainey; and Oscar winner Mo'Nique ("Precious") as blues legend Ma Rainey.

The film offers an intimate look at the determined woman whose immense talent and love for music took her from anonymity in the rough-and-tumble world of vaudeville to the 1920s blues scene and international fame. Capturing Bessie's professional highs and personal lows, the film paints a portrait of a tenacious spirit who, despite her own demons, became a celebrated legend.

Throughout the years, Bessie Smith has served as an inspiration for such illustrious singers as Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin and Nina Simone, among others.

"Bessie" is produced by HBO Films and is executive produced by Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere, Lili Fini Zanuck, Richard D. Zanuck, Shelby Stone and Randi Michel. Ron Schmidt produces. The movie is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Dee Rees ("Pariah") from a screenplay by Rees and Christopher Cleveland & Bettina Gilois, based upon a story by Rees and Horton Foote.


Network: HBO
Genre: Drama
Premiere Date: May 16, 2015
Production Company: HBO Films

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