Fantasy Casting: Queen Latifah Cast as Bessie Smith, But What About Pearl Bailey?

Unfortunately, 2014 brought about the end of The Queen Latifah Show, but thankfully, Queen Latifah won’t be away from television for long! The rapper/actor/singer/producer has been cast as blues and film star Bessie Smith in an HBO biopic written and directed by Dee Rees (Pariah).

As stated by IndieWire, HBO is also casting another biopic about another blues legend, Ma Rainey, also known as the Mother of Blues. (I wonder who will play that role!)

Queen Latifah is a great choice for Bessie Smith; for one, they do favor each other a bit, as you can see in this photo of Smith and some first look stills from HBO:


bessie smith frank masi hbo

bessie smith frank masi hbo 2

And also, Queen Latifah is a great actress, and generally makes any movie she’s in (even awful ones, like Joyful Noise) better. But you know another biopic Queen Latifah would be great in? A Pearl Bailey film. Pearl Bailey, for those not in the know, is a famous film and Broadway star, two of her most memorable performances (for me) being her roles in the all-black musical film Carmen Jones and the all-black production of Hello, Dolly!

Just look at them both! They look nearly the same. Take a look at this publicity photo of Bailey and the pictures of Latifah above.


What do you think about the Bessie Smith biopic and do you agree with me that Queen Latifah should also play Pearl Bailey? Give your opinions in the comments section below!

Bessie Smith publicity photo. Public Domain
Images from Bessie Smith biopic. Credit: Frank Masi/HBO
Pearl Bailey publicity photo. Credit: William Morris Agency (Public Domain)


5 thoughts on “Fantasy Casting: Queen Latifah Cast as Bessie Smith, But What About Pearl Bailey?”

  1. I’ve bee talking about the Queen and Bailey for many years. Especially when she does the vamp number in Chicago. No one else could ever play Bailey that’s a given…so make it already!


  2. I think that it’s ironic looking at and comparing the photos of Queen Latifah and Pearl Bailey. They could be twins, they even sound alike.


  3. I noticed the resemblance, too! A few years ago, I put a one woman show together about the lives of Bessie Smith, Mahalia Jackson and Pearl Bailey. Over the years, I have often envisioned Queen Latifah as Pearl Bailey, Monique` as Mahalia Jackson and myself as Bessie Smith. Wouldn’t it be something if I could put a production together with such awesome women?


  4. I have always thought that Queen was the spitting image of Pearl Bailey. Ms. Bailey is one of our many unsung and overlooked talents.


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