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Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020)

0:30 | Trailer
Chicago, 1927. A recording session. Tensions rise between Ma Rainey, her ambitious horn player and the white management determined to control the uncontrollable "Mother of the Blues". Based on Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson's play.


George C. Wolfe


Ruben Santiago-Hudson (screenplay by), August Wilson (based on the play written by)
32 ( 17)
16 wins & 57 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Viola Davis ... Ma Rainey
Chadwick Boseman ... Levee
Colman Domingo ... Cutler
Glynn Turman ... Toledo
Michael Potts ... Slow Drag
Jeremy Shamos ... Irvin
Jonny Coyne ... Sturdyvant
Taylour Paige ... Dussie Mae
Dusan Brown ... Sylvester
Joshua Harto ... Policeman
Quinn VanAntwerp ... Band Singer
Chloe Davis Chloe Davis ... Ma Rainey's Dancer
Mayte Natalio Mayte Natalio ... Ma Rainey's Dancer
Johanna Elmina Moise ... Ma Rainey's Dancer (as Johanna Moise)
Onyxx Noel Onyxx Noel ... Ma Rainey's Dancer

Chadwick Boseman's Unapologetic Authenticity

Viola Davis, Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, Michael Potts, and George C. Wolfe of Netflix's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom reflect on their late co-star Chadwick Boseman and how he filled up the world with his light and grace, and stood out by not trying to be anyone but himself.

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Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary "Mother of the Blues," Ma Rainey (Academy Award® winner Viola Davis). Late to the session, the fearless, fiery Ma engages in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music. As the band waits in the studio's claustrophobic rehearsal room, ambitious trumpeter Levee (Chadwick Boseman) - who has an eye for Ma's girlfriend and is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry - spurs his fellow musicians into an eruption of stories revealing truths that will forever change the course of their lives. Adapted from two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson's play, MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM celebrates the transformative power of the blues and the artists who refuse to let society's prejudices dictate their worth. Directed by George C. Wolfe and adapted for the screen by Ruben ... Written by Netflix

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Everything Comes Out in the Blues.


Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, some sexual content and brief violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The setting is Chicago; it's the only play in August Wilson's "Century Cycle" that doesn't take place in his home town of Pittsburgh (though it was largely filmed there). See more »


Cutler: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. A one. A two. A you-know-what-to-do.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the first part of the credits, actual photographs of the real Ma Rainey and the musicians who inspired the characters in the play are shown. See more »


Those Dogs of Mine
Written by Ma Rainey (as Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey)
Produced and Arranged by Branford Marsalis
See more »

User Reviews

18 December 2020 | by atractiveeyesSee all my reviews

It's a beautiful movie. The performances are amazing and mind blowing specially by Viola Davis, that gives the year's best female performance, and Chadwick Boseman. The character study is great as well. The screenplay is awesome with many interesting and powerful lines. Cinematography, music, costumes and locations are all nice too. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is a very nice movie but still it feels like it's missing something.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Official Sites:

Official site





Release Date:

18 December 2020 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Black Bottom See more »

Filming Locations:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Netflix See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.00 : 1
See full technical specs »

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