August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Film Adaptation Confirmed With Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman to Star, Denzel Washington to Produce

Viola Davis attends the EE British Academy Film Awards on February 10, 2019 in London, England; Chadwick Boseman and Denzel Washington attends the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Washington on June 06, 2019 in Hollywood, California.
Photo: Pascal Le Segretain (Getty Images), Rich Fury (Getty Images)

Another one of August Wilson’s brilliant plays is coming to the silver screen! Get ready to sound the trumpets because this time, it’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

The film’s synopsis, per its press release:

When Ma Rainey, the “Queen of the Blues,” makes a record in a studio in Chicago, 1927, tensions boil between her, her white agent and producer, and bandmates.


The film adaptation will boast a stellar cast, including Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo, and Michael Potts. Tony- and Director’s Guild of America award-winning director George C. Wolfe will be helming the film, while Ruben Santiago-Hudson (The Devil’s Advocate, American Gangster) will pen the adapted screenplay. Denzel Washington, Todd Black and Dany Wolf will be serving as producers.

This project, brought to the world by Netflix, will be a Broadway industry reunion of sorts for actors Davis and Washington. The pair boasts Wilson roots, having starred in the Tony Award-winning revival of Fences on Broadway in 2010 (the play originally opened at Broadway’s Cort Theatre in October 1984). They both earned Tony Awards for their performances. They later went on to revive their roles on the big screen in the Washington-produced and directed Fences, which earned Davis an Academy Award.

Given the drama of the play, we might as well get ready for Davis’ acclaimed snot-bubble to make a reappearance. And imagine the monologues, especially considering her costars!

While we don’t yet have a release date, we do know that filming is set to begin in Pittsburgh in July. My body is ready for this thespian-filled treat.

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Tonja Renée Stidhum

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.