Watch: Queen Latifah Channels Bessie Smith in Trailer for HBO Biopic

HBO has released the full trailer for its upcoming Bessie Smith biopic, starring Queen Latifah.

The video transports you to the Jazz Age and shows off Queen Latifah’s vocal chops in her performance as the legendary blues singer.

Directed by Dee Rees, the film focuses on Smith’s turbulent life and transformation from a struggling singer to “the Empress of the Blues,” who became one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s.

Aside from paving the way for African American singers, she was also an LGBTQ pioneer who was open about her bisexuality both on and offstage.

The film, which also stars Michael Kenneth Williams and Mo’Nique, premieres on May 16.

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  1. mimi says:

    QUEEN LATIFAH……I have always had admiration n respect for u growing up with u back n the day. U r truly n inspiration for black women. I am watching Bessie for the 1st time n 10 minutes, I’m inspired. As a single mother of 2 young adult women….I feel it imperative for my daughter’s to watch, listen n learn from your film. well as my only son. Thank you for giving my family some real history that we have not been afforded n a long time…..God bless u & all u hold dear.

  2. I do not understand why somebody like Queen Latifah had to do the nude scene which really served no purpose in the story. Taking off your clothes usually helps an unknown actress but in the case of Latifah it really was not necessary. I like Latifah, she comes accross as a nice, likable person and all her movies show these characteriscs. If nudity is necessary to the story, if it means something, then it is ok, no matter how famous you are. However, in this case, I repeat it was really unnecessary.

  3. She’s [“Queen Latifah”] a great actress in every roll she’s played. Looks good for her career as well. Staying at continuous work (getting the best opportunities to portray past Black-Icons-Legends in the Entertainment/Show Business is key-success for our Black-sisters and brothers in Hollywood. I look forward to watching her perform very-well in this role. Kudos to HBO for presenting yet another great African-American Legend’s Biopic. We need more like this one to be showcased on the Home-Screens. As well, Congratulations to Dana Owens/”Queen Latifah”! You too are a “Legend In-the-Making”.

  4. Karl Dallas says:

    We’ve had Diana Ross as Lady Day, Harry James’s trumpet as Bix, so this Hollywood as usual. But why couldn’t she mime to Bessie’s recordings? She’s an OK singer, but no Empress of the Blues. I’m running a poll so jazz lovers can have their say.

  5. Ed Shapiro says:

    Bessie was great but…. Dinah Washington was the greatest! Queen Latifah would have been perfect for the role of Dinah!

    • Jean R. Russell says:

      HBO missed-it this time! I kept waiting for it to get better – or even good. I agree that Queen Latifah is not a great singer, and that she should-have lip-sinqed to the real Bessie. The only person who was good to watch was Michael (Chalkie White from Boardwalk)

  6. Peterson says:

    This is not going to make it. It’s dreadful.

  7. Hi All…Looks great! Can’t wait to see it!

  8. Carl says:

    Fail. Yawn.

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