Tensions rise when trailblazing blues singer Ma Rainey and her band gather at a recording studio in Chicago in 1927.


George C. Wolfe


Ruben Santiago-Hudson (screenplay by), August Wilson (based on the play written by)
136 ( 113)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 74 wins & 186 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

The Legacy of Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman is known for his iconic performances in Get on Up, Black Panther, and his final role in the musical drama Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. IMDb takes a celebratory look at his career in film and television.

Watch the video



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 | Plot Synopsis


Everything Comes Out in the Blues. See more »


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?


This is the second August Wilson adaptation to be produced by Denzel Washington. He previously adapted Fences (2016) which he starred in, directed, and produced. Washington is only a producer for this film. See more »


Levee: I know what I'm doin'. Let me handle them my way.
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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 »


Doctor Jazz
Written by King Oliver (as Joseph Oliver) and Walter Melrose
Produced by Branford Marsalis
See more »

User Reviews

The Actors Deserve Better
18 December 2020 | by varun-25071997See all my reviews

Everything in the film is perfect except for its poor direction and lack of story. Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis are spectacular, especially the former. He should get all awards for his final role which was nothing but a masterclass in acting.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Official Sites:

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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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