Created, written and directed by Sam Levinson, starring Emmy winner Zendaya, and produced in partnership with A24, the drama series will return for its eight-episode second season SUNDAY, JANUARY 9 (9:00p.m. ET/PT) on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max.
Logline: Amidst the intertwining lives in the town of East Highland, 17 year old Rue (Zendaya) must find hope while balancing the pressures of love, loss, and addiction.
Oscar® nominee Queen Latifah (“Chicago”) stars as legendary blues singer Bessie Smith in the HBO Films drama BESSIE, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Dee Rees (“Pariah”) from a screenplay by Dee Rees and Christopher Cleveland & Bettina Gilois. With a story by Dee Rees and Horton Foote, the film focuses on Smith’s transformation from a struggling young singer into “The Empress of the Blues,” one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s and an enduring icon today.
Debuting SATURDAY, MAY 16 (8:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT) on HBO, BESSIE is executive produced by Richard D. Zanuck, Lili Fini Zanuck, Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere, Shelby Stone and Randi Michel. Ron Schmidt produces.
Q: How did you get involved in BESSIE?
QUEEN LATIFAH: It came to me through the Zanuck Company more than 20 years ago. I auditioned for the role at the time and I’ve been attached to it since then. It’s been a long time, but it was a story worth telling and a character worth sticking with. It’s been satisfying to finally see it happen. I’m looking forward to people finding out who Bessie Smith is if they don’t know about her already.
I didn’t know who Bessie was when this movie came to me in my early 20s. I did some homework and realized how influential she was and what amazing things she accomplished. For example, when you find out what an influence she was on Billie Holiday, it brings her importance into focus.
Q: Bessie looks to Ma Rainey as a mother figure in the film.