*HBO on Thursday released a cast list and other details regarding its upcoming film “Bessie,” a biopic of blues legend Bessie Smith with Queen Latifah in the title role.
The singer, rapper and daytime talk show host will also executive produce the project, which originates from HBO Films.
Co-stars include Michael K. Williams (“Boardwalk Empire”) as Bessie’s husband Jack; Khandi Alexander (“Scandal”) as Bessie’s big sister, Viola; Mike Epps as Richard, a bootlegger and romantic interest; Tika Sumpter (“Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and Have Nots”) as Lucille, a performer and romantic interest; Tory Kittles (“True Detective”) as Bessie’s older brother Clarence; Oliver Platt, as fame photographer and writer Carl Van Vechten; Charles Dutton as Ma Rainey’s husband, William “Pa” Rainey; and Oscar winner Mo’Nique as blues legend Ma Rainey.
Written and directed by Dee Rees, the movie will focus on “Smith’s transformation from a struggling young singer into ‘Empress of the Blues’ and one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s,” notes HBO in a statement.
Filming will take place in Atlanta for a 2015 premiere.