entertainment

Viola Davis is legendary queer blues singer Ma Rainey in 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom': Watch the first trailer

The Oscar winner stars opposite the late Cadwick Boseman in Netflix's jazzy new period drama.

2020-10-21

Screen legend Viola Davis will take on the role of queer blues singer Ma Rainey in new Netflix film Ma Rainey's Black Bottom - and we're chomping at the bit for this one already.

The Oscar winner, 55, stars opposite the late Cadwick Boseman in the upcoming period drama based on the life of 'Mother of the Blues' Rainey, who shot to fame in the 1920s as one of the earliest African-American professional blues singers.

The film, which now has its first trailer ahead of its release on Netflix on 18 December, will mark the final screen appearance of Black Panther star Boseman, who died in August following a four-year battle with colon cancer.

Ma Rainey, who died in 1939 at the age of 53, was a queer woman who, in a revolutionary act for the era, even publicly alluded to her sexuality in some of her lyrics.

The Georgia-born singer notably declared in 1928's 'Prove It on Me': "They said I do it, ain't nobody caught me / Sure got to prove it on me / Went out last night with a crowd of my friends / They must've been women, 'cause I don't like no men."

Produced by Denzel Washington and directed by gay filmmaker George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is adapted from August Wilson's Tony-nominated 1982 play of the same name.

An official synopsis reads: "Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary 'Mother of the Blues', Ma Rainey (Academy Award winner Viola Davis).

"Late to the session, the fearless, fiery Ma engages in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music.

"As the band waits in the studio’s claustrophobic rehearsal room, ambitious trumpeter Levee (Chadwick Boseman) — who has an eye for Ma’s girlfriend and is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry — spurs his fellow musicians into an eruption of stories revealing truths that will forever change the course of their lives."

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom will be released on Netflix on Friday 18 December. Check out the trailer below: