And she came to the premiere looking like a million bucks and acting serene and lovely. That was Mo’Nique, Oscar winner and more recently participant in a fencing match between herself and Hollywood. Mo’Nique co-stars as blues singer Ma Rainey in HBO’s “Bessie,” in which Queen Latifah gives the performance of a lifetime. This is the Emmy movie of the year come September. It’s just phenomenal.
Queen Latifah– already beloved, hard working, a fabulous singer. When you see her as Bessie Smith she blows your mind. She gets quite naked, as well, which I know will attract attention and headlines. It’s very much part of the story of Bessie’s rise and fall and return.
Before we had Aretha-Gladys-Patti-Diana, or Whitney-Mariah-Madonna, there were the original divas, the women of the blues–Bessie Smith- Ma Rainey- Ethel Waters. This last group was just as contentious, full of fun and drama, lived life large, made headlines etc. Bessie had a voracious sexual appetite fueled by an abusive childhood. She was shocking, loud, stunning, poignant. Queen Latifah will win the Emmy for making Bessie Smith come alive for a new generation. She’s awe inspiring.
And then there’s Mo’Nique. She plays the calm in the storm of these women, the complete opposite of “Precious.” She is all heart as Ma Rainey, who was Bessie Smith’s mentor, guide, and friend. as Latifah explodes like fireworks and Khandi Alexander plays out cruel games with Smith as her older sister, Mo’Nique– of all people– brings compassion to the story. She’ll pick up Best Supporting Actress at the Emmys without fail.
SOURCE: Roger Friedman