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Tika Sumpter Talks Her Role in Biopic ‘Bessie’

Tika Sumpter’s career has steadily been on the rise, featured in Whitney Houston’s last film, Sparkle, cast back in December 2014 as First Lady Michelle Obama, and now earning the role of Lucille, lesbian lover to character Bessie Smith in the HBO bio pic, Bessie, about a 1920’s blues performer- starring Queen Latifah, comedians Mo’nique, Mike Epps, and Boardwalk Empire’s Michael K. Williams.

The movie follows the life of Bessie Smith, known as the “Empress of Blues,” a pioneering African American performer known for her no-nonsense demand for respect and equal pay and, at the time, taboo sexual preferences.

In an interview with The Root, Sumpter shares how she prepared for the dynamic role, where she play’s lover to Bessie, played by award winning actress, Queen Latifah, during a time when bisexuality and homosexuality were viewed as unacceptable.

“The crazy thing is, you could go to jail back in that time, but there was a specific group of women, like Ma Rainey, Ethel Waters, all into women, Sumpter told The Root, “At that time, nobody really cared about the law. If you listen to their lyrics, they are pretty out there. There was no kind of undertones. It was like, this is how you please a woman”.

The Hollywood starlet also told The Root, she had no trouble embodying the classic character or kissing a girl, for that matter, saying working alongside actress Latifah and her “fearless” approach to acting, made it easy.

Read more at The Root