Winner of 4 Emmys

Queen Latifah stars as legendary blues singer Bessie Smith in this HBO Films presentation, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Dee Rees 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,” who became one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s and is an enduring icon today.

“Beautifully affecting ... showcasing a gutsy, soul-and flesh-baring performance by Queen Latifah.”

— The Denver Post

Go Behind the Scenes

Interviews, commentary and more with the cast and crew.


Behind the Scenes

Your Invitation to the Set

Star and executive producer Queen Latifah and director and writer Dee Rees discuss the making of Bessie.

Dee Rees


Dee Rees Wants You to Feel the Blues

The writer and director shares how she was introduced to the music of Bessie Smith, and what she hopes viewers take away from the film.

Essential HBO Films

Get HBO Anytime, Anywhere

Discover how you can enjoy HBO’s original series, hit movies, documentaries and more. HBO is available through the HBO NOW streaming app, TV package, or an existing digital subscription

Did You Know?

You can stream HBO anywhere you go. Watch HBO on your TV, computer, tablet or mobile phone.