Denzel Washington teamed up with director George C. Wolfe to turn August Wilson’s play, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” into a Netflix must see film.
The film stars heavy hitters such as the brilliant Viola Davis, Glynn Turman, rising star Taylour Paige and a final performance by Chadwick Boseman. The film is set in 1920s Chicago where racial tensions are at an all time high and Black people are just trying to figure out how to make their way in this new world. A band of musicians anxiously await the arrival of the legendary “Mother of Blues,” Ma Rainey [Viola Davis] to commence their afternoon recording session. The fiery and outspoken singer arrives late and with demands when tensions begin to escalate with her white manager and producer over control of her music.
Most people may be quick to point out Ma’s assertive nature as being difficult and problematic, however Ma knows exactly why she demands the luxuries she is asking for. “Obviously Ma is moving the needle because she really is auditioning for her worth and her value and she knows that everything is conditional,” explains Paige. Her manager and producer are quite literally the depiction of white people wanting our rhythm while blatantly ignoring our blues. “Blues is the way we process our trauma, it’s how we sing about it. It’s an act of resistance,” Paige shares.
And while Ma is working out her grievances, the band waits in the overheated recording studio for the chaos to settle. Levee [Chadwick Boseman] the over zealous trumpeter sets his eyes on Ma’s girlfriend [Taylour Paige] and is determined to make his name in the music industry. His ambitious nature sets him at odds with the bandmates which results in them divulging traumatic stories from their past that have ultimately shaped them into the men that we see on the screen. Unbeknownst to the cast, Boseman was battling stage 4 colon cancer and unfortunately lost that battle in August 2020. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is the last film Boseman will appear in and he went out with a bang! “I just kind of remember him [Boseman] as something that’s infinite, a very large presence, a very large energy that touched who he was supposed to touch and then he left, he graduated. And just a special, good soul,” Paige shares.
Watch Taylor Paige’s full interview above. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom will be streaming on Netflix on Dec. 18.