Rolling Out

Actress Khandi Alexander talks working with Queen Latifah on the movie, ‘Bessie’

Photo credit: Patrick Wymore/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Photo credit: Patrick Wymore/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

For 30 years now, Khandi Alexander has made a name for herself in Hollywood as a go-to character actress.


With a long list of movies on her résumé (CB4, Menace II Society,There’s Something About Mary), and her standout work in television on such shows as “NewsRadio,” her breakout role as Fran in HBO’s “The Corner,” and her scene-stealing performances on the hit ABC drama, “Scandal,” Alexander has proven over and over that there isn’t much she can’t do in front of the camera.


Alexander recently appeared on the talk show “The Real” to promote her latest project, the HBO original film, “Bessie,” about the life of legendary blues singer Bessie Smith. The film stars Queen Latifah in the title role, and as Alexander told the hosts of the show, she has nothing but the utmost respect for Latifah’s career.

“When you stop to take a minute and look at Queen Latifah’s career, she came out of the box right. You know, ‘Ladies First!’ And she’s been consistent with that message of female self-empowerment. She really has! You have to give her … you have to really recognize that the artists that she’s managed over the years, the things she’s produced, and now she put her stamp on this woman’s life. And I’m telling you, you’re gonna love this movie,” she said.


In addition to wanting to work with Queen Latifah, Alexander tells the ladies that she was also a big fan of the movie’s director, Dee Rees, and she was simply amazed by Smith’s story:.

“I wanted to work with Latifah, and I didn’t know a lot about Bessie Smith. I knew her music, little pieces here and there. And as I started doing research and read this wonderful script … and Dee Rees, who is the director, she did the film Pariah, which I love, so I wanted to work with Dee. And I just wanted to be in that world. Times were very hard back then for everyone. The accomplishments of this woman and what she contributed to the music industry are amazing, that she was able to accomplish what she did,” Alexander said..

“Bessie” is currently airing on HBO.

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