Viola Davis Set to Bring Ma Rainey to Hollywood

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Jun 24, 2019

Viola Davis is famous for playing complex characters in a way that forces people to pay attention. She has won two Tony Awards (for August Wilson’s “King Hedley II” in 2001 and “Fences” in 2010), an Academy Award for the 2017 film version of “Fences” and critical acclaim as the brilliantly manipulative lawyer Annalise Keating on “How To Get Away with Murder.” Now, Davis will tackle another layered role created by Wilson, that of legendary queer blues and Rock & Roll Hall Fame-performer Ma Rainey reports The Hollywood Reporter.

The Denzel Washington-produced, Netflix-backed film will adapt the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (1982) for the big screen. The story—which follows the famous singer as she makes a record in 1927 Chicago while battling her White agent and producer—illustrates, in classic Wilson fashion, the historical struggle of Black people reaching for autonomy.

Wilson’s widow, Constanza Romero, will executive produce and Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo and Michael Potts round out the cast. Director George C. Wolfe, of the Oprah Winfrey-produced “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” will lead the film and actor and playwright Ruben Santiago-Hudson (“Lackawanna Blues”) will pen the script, The Advocate reported Sunday (June 23).