Charles Dutton, Tika Sumpter, Khandi Alexander, Mike Epps, and just announced Michael K. Williams have been tabbed to round out the cast of HBO’s Bessie, with Queen Latifah starring as the iconic blues legend, Bessie Smith. The film will be directed by Dee Rees (Pariah) chronicling how Smith overcame a destructive lifestyle to become one of the most acclaimed recording artists of the 1920s and '30s dubbed, Empress of the Blues.
Williams will play Bessie's husband. Dutton is cast as William Rainey, husband to Ma Rainey, who will be played by Oscar winning actress Mo’Nique. Epps is Richard Morgan, a bootlegger who Smith is romantically involved with. Alexander is Bessie's older sister, Viola, forced to take care of Bessie when their parents die. While Sumpter is a chorus girl.
Dutton is perfect for his role. He was recently nominated for a Tony Award for his portrayal of Levee Green in the Broadway production of August Wilson's Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. While Sumpter currently stars on the OWN drama The Haves and Have Nots. She was recently seen on the big screen alongside Ice Cube and Kevin Hart in Ride Along. And can be seen in the upcoming James Brown biopic Get On Up.
Williams appears in this summer's The Purge 2 and the Mark Wahlberg film The Gambler in the fall.
Produced by HBO in association with Queen Latifah and Shakim Compere’s Flavor Unit Entertainment, along with Lili and the late Richard Zanuck’s the Zanuck Co., Bessie sounds like it shouldn't be missed.