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Queen Latifah grabs lead role and executive-produces Bessie Smith film

Queen Latifah will also produce the film about the famed singer
Queen Latifah will also produce the film about the famed singer
Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Queen Latifah will star as legendary blues singer Bessie Smith in HBO Films’ "Bessie", written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Dee Rees (“Pariah”). The film is currently in production in Atlanta and debuting in 2015, the 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 cast includes features Michael K. Williams, Khandi Alexander, Mike Epps, Tika Sumpter, Tory Kittles, Oliver Platt, Bryan Greenberg, Charles S. Dutton and Mo’Nique. "Bessie"is executive produced by Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere, Lili Fini Zanuck, Shelby Stone and Randi Michel.

Michael K. Williams stars as Bessie’s husband, Jack. Khandi Alexander plays Bessie’s big sister, Viola. Mike Epps plays Richard, a bootlegger and romantic interest. Tika Sumpter plays Lucille, a performer and romantic interest. Oliver Platt plays famed photographer and writer Carl Van Vechten. Bryan Greenberg portrays renowned record producer and music critic John Hammond. Tory Kittles (HBO’s “True Detective”; “Olympus Has Fallen”) plays Bessie’s older brother, Clarence. Charles S. Dutton portrays Ma Rainey’s husband, William “Pa” Rainey. Mo’Nique portrays blues legend Ma Rainey.

Award-winning actress, musician, talk-show host, bestselling author and business executive Queen Latifah's hit talk show “The Queen Latifah Show,” returns this the fall.