HBO has released the trailer for its upcoming Bessie Smith biopic Bessie, starring Queen Latifah, Michael Kenneth Williams (back in his Chalky White finery) and Mo’Nique in her first major role since she won an Oscar for Precious. As we all saw in Chicago, Latifah knows how to crush ’20s jazz. But Bessie will also bring the drama. Smith had a tumultuous relationship with her, husband Jack (Williams), and lived her life on her terms. According to the film’s director Dee Rees, director of the critically acclaimed film Pariah, about a young black teenage lesbian, the movie won’t shy away from Smith’s bisexuality, as evidenced in the trailer. Because shy was hardly a word to describe Bessie Smith. “Bessie never walks around things, Rees said. “She just walks right through it.”
Bessie premieres on HBO May 16 at 8 pm.