Queen Latifah On Playing Blues Legend Bessie Smith

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Latifah is confirmed to take on an iconic role she was first offered 22 years ago.

Queen Latifah recently opened up about her upcoming starring role in the new HBO film Bessie, a musical biography about the life of ‘20s jazz legend Bessie Smith who was known as “The Empress of the Blues.”

Latifah will play Smith. She was originally offered the role 22 years ago. At a recent winter meeting of the Television Critics Association, Latifah revealed that she’s far more prepared to take on Smith today than she was back then during the height of her rap career.

"I had no idea who Bessie Smith was, to be honest with you … I had to become familiar with who she was in particular,” said Latifah. “I was just blown away. I could hear her voice in so many people who came after her … If there was a Bessie Smith alive today, she'd blow everyone else out of the water. I could never match her true ability."

So, why now?

"The blues, the blues, I've gained such a great amount of respect for the blues … The blues are just as stunning to me now as when this first came to me,’ Latifah went on to say. “If anything, I feel like I have a little more of the story of what Bessie had to say."

Bessie will air this spring on HBO.

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