Taylour Paige says fans will be “stunned” by Chadwick Boseman’s performance in ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’

Actress Taylour Paige says she was unaware of Chadwick Boseman‘s cancer diagnosis while they were shooting the film adaptation of August Wilson‘s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. 

“I didn’t know he was sick,” Paige tells ELLE magazine. “People are going to be stunned by his performance, but now I feel he should win an Oscar just for acting like he was OK.”

Set in the 1920s Chicago, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom stars Viola Davis as the legendary “Mother of Blues” singer Ma Rainey, who struggles with her white agent and producer, and other racial prejudices in the music industry, over control of her music.

Boseman plays her ambitious trumpet player, Levee, and Paige will play Ma Rainey’s lover, Dussie Mae. 

Paige said their characters “are trying to live in their truth in [the 1920s] when the world doesn’t accept them because they’re Black.” 

Boseman died in August at age 43 after a four-year battle with colon cancer, an illness not publicly revealed until his death. His last film to be released before his death was Spike Lee‘s Da 5 Bloods, which Lee speculates Boseman may have known this would be his last film.

“Chadwick was [and] is a solider,” said Lee in a Variety interview earlier this month. “This is conjecture [but] there’s a possibility he thought this might be his last film.  And God gave him one more with Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

Produced by Oscar-winner Denzel WashingtonMa Rainey’s Black Bottom launches December 18 on Netflix.

By Rachel George
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