Watch: Teaser Trailer for HBO’s Bessie Smith Biopic Starring Queen Latifah

A 30-second teaser has surfaced for for HBO‘s forthcoming biopic on “Empress of Blues” Bessie Smith, who will be portrayed by Queen Latifah.

Directed by Dee Rees (Pariah), Bessie intimately captures the life, rise to international fame, and personal heartbreaks of the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s.

Watch: Queen Latifah Rise as “Empress of Blues” in Official Trailer for HBO’s ‘Bessie’

The cast includes Michael K. Williams as Bessie’s husband, Jack Gee; Khandi Alexander as Bessie’s older sister, Viola; Mike Epps as Richard, a bootlegger and romantic interest; Tika Sumpter as Lucille, a performer and romantic interest; Tory Kittles as Bessie’s older brother, Clarence; Oliver Platt as famed photographer and writer Carl Van Vechten; Bryan Greenberg as renowned record producer and music critic John Hammond; Mo’Nique as blues legend Ma Rainey and Charles S. Dutton as Ma Rainey’s husband, William “Pa” Rainey.

Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in 'Bessie' (2015)

Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith in ‘Bessie’ (2015)

The story was written by Horton Foote and Rees, with screenplay penned by Rees, Christopher Cleveland and Bettina Gilois.

Produced by Ron Schmidt, the film is executive produced by Latifah, Shakim Compere, Lili Fini Zanuck, Richard D. Zanuck, Shelby Stone and Randi Michel.

“Bessie has been 22 years in the making,” says HBO. “The first draft was written by playwright Horton Foote. Queen Latifah was approached by producers Richard and Lili Fini Zanuck to take on the role of Bessie when she was just launching her acting career. She eventually came on board as an executive producer, along with producing partner Shakim Compere.”

Enjoy previews and movie stills below, and be sure to save the date for the premiere of Bessie on HBO on Saturday, May 16, 2015 at 8:00 pm.

Michael K. Williams as Jack Gee  in 'Bessie' (2015)

Michael K. Williams as Jack Gee in ‘Bessie’ (2015)

Khandi Alexander as Viola in 'Bessie' (2015)

Khandi Alexander as Viola in ‘Bessie’ (2015)

Mike Epps as Richard in 'Bessie' (2015)

Mike Epps as Richard in ‘Bessie’ (2015)

Tika Sumpter as Lucille in 'Bessie' (2015)

Tika Sumpter as Lucille in ‘Bessie’ (2015)

Mo'Nique as Ma Rainey in 'Bessie' (2015)

Mo’Nique as Ma Rainey in ‘Bessie’ (2015)

Charles S. Dutton as William "Pa" Rainey in 'Bessie' (2015)

Charles S. Dutton as William “Pa” Rainey in ‘Bessie’ (2015)

[via forharriet.com, shadowandact]