Queen Latifah signs on to play Bessie Smith in HBO biopic

By Daniel S Levine,

Queen Latifah has agreed to star as blues legend Bessie Smith in an HBO biopic. It will be written and directed by Dee Rees, who made the award-winning Pariah.

The “Empress of Blues” was an iconic blues singer who recorded during the 1920s and 1930s, overcoming a rocky private life to become one of the most well-known singers in the country. Smith’s life was chronicled in Chris Albertson’s book Bessie, which will provide the basis for the film, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

According to Deadline, Queen Latifah will be executive producing the project with Lili Fini Zanuck and Richard Zanuck, along with Shakim Compere, Shelby Stone, Randi Michel and Hallie Foote. Ron Schmidt is the producer.

The project will be an HBO Films production with Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment and the Zanuck Company.

Queen Latifah is currently the host of the syndicated talk show The Queen Latifah Show and she recently appeared in Lifetime’s Steel Magnolias remake. Her production company has an overall deal with BET.

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