Casting Net: Queen Latifah to Star as Jazz Singer Bessie Smith
By Stacy Lambe
Queen Latifah is returning to HBO with a new biopic about famed jazz singer Bessie Smith. The Hollywood Reporter is reporting to the actress has been tapped to take on the lead role while American screenwriter Dee Rees (Pariah) will write and direct the film.
Smith was a popular singer during the late 1920s and early '30s who struggled with alcohol throughout her career. The singer was also believed to have engaged in a lesbian relationship with Ma Rainey and Lillian Simpson, a chorus girl in Smith's touring group. While those stories were never confirmed, Smith's song, "It's Dirty But Good," makes direct reference to lesbians. Who knows how much of that will end up in the film.
Latifah previously starred in the HBO film, Life Support, loosely based on the real life of HIV-positive activist Ana Wallace.