Chadwick Boseman’s passing has left a black hole within the arts and entertainment world. Both critics and audiences celebrated the meteoritic rise of Boseman’s career from 42 to the critical and commercial success of Black Panther. By all accounts, Boseman was an actor just hitting his stride. Hollywood’s lights will be dimmer without him.
In the wake of his death, admirers of his work can look forward to Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which is set to be released later this year through Netflix. Widely considered to be the role that would have landed Boseman’s his first Oscar nod, this musical drama tracks “The Mother of Blues” Ma Rainey’s (Viola Davis) ascendent rise within the 1920s Chicago blues scene. Rainey battles with her white management for control of her music as well as with her backing band, which includes Levee (Chadwick Boseman), a trumpeter hungry for success and for Rainey’s girlfriend. The recording room becomes a powder keg ripe for explosion.
Directed by George C. Wilson and adapted from the August Wilson’s play by the same name, this film will give us one final chance to enjoy Boseman’s acting. With his mentor Denzel Washington producing this feature, the emotional weight of Boseman’s performance—in light of both his talent and his premature death—will be inescapable.