Queen Latifah is bringing Bessie Smith to life in HBO’s forthcoming biopic on the legendary blues-jazz singer. The experience has presented her a list of firsts.
In the new April/May issue of Uptown magazine the award-winning powerhouse opened up on one of the biopic’s most compelling scenes, in which Latifah appears nude. She likened the bare-skinned experience to her role as “Cleo” in F. Gary Gray’s 1996 drama “Set It Off.”
“I’ve never done that before. It was a little odd but it was also a quiet, relaxing thing,” the New Jersey-native recalled of the scene. “Sometimes she was so alone, and it was a moment for Bessie to acknowledge her vulnerability, which I can completely relate to … I don’t find [this nude scene] any more uncomfortable than kissing a girl in ‘Set It Off’ and sticking to the script.”
“You have to take your mind off of yourself and honor that character. Respect Cleo, respect Bessie.”
In the interview, Latifah also offered her thoughts on the controversy surrounding Bill Cosby’s list of rape allegations. Similar to other notable public figures who have spoken out on the situation, the actress-singer feels Cosby’s wholesome image is tarnished.
“It’s unfortunate because he has done so much in terms of entertainment, culture and black folks,” she said. “But right is right and wrong is wrong. All these women, all these stories, it’s just – what a big stain on such an amazing career.”
Read more of Queen Latifah’s Uptown magazine interview here.