Quick Quotes. ‘Bessie’ Director Dee Rees on Sexual Freedom and Experimentation For Black Artists in the 1920’s.

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Bessie Film Still Queen Latifah Tika Sumpter

Bessie filmmaker Dee Rees recently spoke with Huff Post Live host Nancy Redd, about how the political and social climate for African Americans afforded black artists in the 1920’s a degree of “sexual freedom and geographic mobility” leading to fluid sexuality and open experimentation.

The film, which highlights the life of Bessie Smith and places on a lens on her often multifaceted relationships, features Tika Sumpter as Lucille, one of Smith’s many lovers. Rees states that the men and women in her life each provided Smith with something emotionally, mentally, or physically.

Lucille is a composite character, kind of a made-up character. I knew that Bessie had had relationships with both men and women, and I wanted to show her as a woman who took humanity on a case-by-case basis. She loved who she wanted to love.


Bessie premieres on HBO on May 16th.

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