Trailer: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020)


The trailer for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (2020) dropped recently, so let’s discuss it!

The film, which is based on the 1982 play of the same name by August Wilson, features Viola Davis as legendary Blues singer, Ma Rainey, and Chadwick Boseman as her ambitious horn player, Levee (in Boseman’s final film appearance before succumbing to colon cancer in August of this year). The costumes are designed by Ann Roth, who at 88 years old, and a career stretching back to the 1960s, has plenty of costuming cred to her name (just to name a few of her historical offerings: The English Patient (1996), The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), The Hours (2002), and 127 more).

Viola Davis reportedly gained a lot of weight to portray Ma Rainey, but still had to rely on Ann Roth’s costuming to make her look even bigger. Davis remarked at the Toronto International Film Festival, “I grew up with a lot of big woman that I thought were the most beautiful woman in the word. So for me it was Aretha Franklin. I wanted that body.”


Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is set for release on December 18, 2020, on Netflix. We’ll be watching — will you?


About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

12 Responses

  1. Rachel Cotney

    Ma Rainey was from Columbus, Georgia, where my husband grew up. Can’t wait to see this!

    • M.E. Lawrence

      Me, neither. What a line-up of talent, from acting to music to costuming. (O.T.: I’m mailing my get-out-the-vote postcards to Georgia today. Lots of good people from that part of the world.)

  2. Gwyn

    Chadwick Boseman saying, “I’ve got my time coming to me.” I may have cried. This will be a good if hard watch.

  3. LadySlippers

    Viola AND Chadwick? That combination means it’s a “must see TV”.

  4. Lily Lotus Rose

    Yes, I will definitely watch this! I want to see all the plays of August Wilson’s Century Cycle–even if I have to see “screenplays” rather than the plays. Viola and Chadwick will be awesome. Re making Viola look bigger in costumes: That made me think of a documentary (?) I saw about Orry-Kelly in which it was revealed that he had to build practically all of Natalie Woods’s “curves” into the costumes for Gypsy because she didn’t have any. I don’t know the costume designer for this project by name–but certainly her work speaks volumes–these costumes look great (I’m not qualified to judge their accuracy) as do the other films you listed by her, especially The Talented Mr Ripley. Back to Ma Rainey–I’m loving that blue dress on Viola Davis!!

  5. Addie

    ~They say I do it, ain’t nobody caught me! Sure got to prove it on me!~