Noted private person Queen Latifah stars in HBO’s new biopic on legendary blues singer Bessie Smith, who history tells us was bisexual. Unlike the Queen, Bessie doesn’t skirt the issue of Smith’s sexuality — she enjoyed liaisons with both men and women as blues singers of that era were wont to do.
Queen La had previously played a lesbian in 1995’s Set It Off, for which both she and Jada Pinkett-Smith were robbed of Oscar nominations. And while she has been an ally for ages, Queen has been notoriously cagey about her own orientation despite persistent rumors. When asked about the movie’s sex scenes, however, she was made her feelings very
“People feel a type of way when they see any sexuality on-screen. I think its almost human nature. People are so fascinated by it. It shouldn’t even be a discussion,” Latifah told BET’s Clay Kane. “But it is, because people are still curious, and people still wonder how they feel about things. At the end of the day I don’t really care if someone feels uncomfortable about it. It is what it is, and it’s life. So you either deal with it or not. It’s just part of who she is, and I had to tell the story honestly.”
Well all right then. You can catch Queen Latifah as the Empress of the Blues — along with Mo’Nique as Ma Rainey and Tika Sumpter as Bessie’s lover Lucille — in Bessie, debuting May 16 at 8 p.m. on HBO. Below, Queen Latifah and Mo’Nique’s sit-down with BET:
Les Fabian Brathwaite — t’aint nobody’s biz-ness…but I did.