Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Follows Real & Fictional People — Here’s Who’s Who

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Awards season is looking a lot different this time around, but that doesn't mean some big contenders aren't rolling out this winter. You'll just have to watch them at home rather than on the big screen. One of these is Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, now on Netflix.
The adaptation of August Wilson's 1982 play of the same name is centered around one day at the recording studio with blues singer Ma Rainey and her band in 1927, as they record music and look back on their pasts. The title is in reference to Rainey's song "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," with Black Bottom being a style of dance that was popular in the 1920s.
Viola Davis stars as Rainey, the real-life Mother of the Blues. Chadwick Boseman plays a trumpeter, Levee, in his final film role following his August 2020 death. Both Davis and Boseman already have Oscar buzz for their roles.
In addition to Boseman and Davis, the cast is made up the actors playing the rest of Ma Rainey's band, a producer, a manager, and a love interest of both Rainey and Levee. Click through the the slideshow to find out more about everyone involved, and the real world inspiration behind the story.

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