We travel back to 1920s Chicago in this episode that celebrates the Netflix Original film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Starring Viola Davis as Ma, this musical drama tunes into one particular recording session of the famed blues singer. Anna chats to star Taylour Paige, casting director Avy Kaufman and critic Akua Gyamfi.
Anna first chats to critic Akua about Viola’s exceptional portrayal of the musical icon. They explore the character’s image, sexuality, fame and unapologetic truth. Finding Ma Rainey relevant to the present day, Akua imagines her as a 21st century influencer, and reflects on Black women in the music industries. Whether busting conventions or being busted for lesbian orgies, Ma sparks endless intrigue and admiration.
Anna is then joined by Taylour Paige who stars as Ma’s girlfriend Dussie May. Taylour unpicks her character’s role in the film and praises George C. Wolfe’s direction for allowing her to be playful. She also reveals what it was like to work with Viola both onscreen and offscreen… apparently she is quite the comedian!
Finally, Anna welcomes Avy Kaufman to the podcast – our first casting director guest! Avy gives us an insight into the world of casting. She explains how she cast actors around Viola and why it was important to get the dynamic right between her and Taylour. More generally, Avy comments on bringing diversity to the screen, how the casting process has changed during the pandemic, and what makes a good casting director.