First Look: See Queen Latifah As Bessie Smith in HBO Biopic
HBO/ Frank Masi

Queen Latifah is making her way back to the cinematic small screen to star in Bessie, an HBO biopic recounting the life of singer Bessie Smith, who was also known as “The Empress of the Blues.”

The film, which is directed by Dee Rees (Pariah), will tell the story of the legendary Smith’s turbulent personal life and her transformation into one of the most iconic singers of the 20th century. Latifah is also an executive producer of the project, along with Shakim Compere, Lili Fini Zanuck, Richard D. Zanuck, Shelby Stone, and Randi Michel.

The film has an all-star cast that includes Michael Kenneth Williams, Khandi Alexander, Mike Epps, Tika Sumpter, Tory Kittles, Charles S. Dutton and Mo’Nique.

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Latifah is no stranger to HBO. In 2008, she won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for her role in HBO’s Life Support, where she played a crack-addicted mother.

The official premiere date of Bessie has not yet been released.