'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom': Is Dussie based on a real person? Meet Taylour Paige's sizzling avatar in Netflix film
Spoilers for 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom'
In August Wilson's play of the same name, the legendary Mother of Blues' girlfriend Dussie is described as perhaps the most sensual woman ever. She is gorgeous with an air of tease about her that seems particularly tempting on a hot summer day in Chicago and Ma Rainey sure can't resist her charm just as much as the man who challenges her in the story — Levee can't resist it either. In the upcoming Netflix movie, which marks Chadwick Boseman's final feature appearance, the character of Dussie is perhaps portrayed in a light that might go on to make her even more irresistible in the ranks of the manic pixie dream girl, the saving grace here being Dussie not serving a man's inspiration on his journey to excellence. And playing her to perfection is none other than Taylour Paige, whom you might remember from the VH1 show 'Hit the Floor'.
Paige, who played Ahsha Hayes on the VH1 show, is an acclaimed dancer who's quietly but steadily making her move up the ladder in Hollywood with her incredible talents. From her onscreen career kickstarting with the third and final High School Musical film aka 'HSM 3: Senior Year', Paige is now the center of attraction in a film that has already been touted for two best actor nominations. Paige was seen in 'HSM 3' as a dancer in the song “I Want It All.” Thereon, her journey in Hollywood saw her in the 2010 video shorts 'Alex in Wonderland: Rehearsing Wonderland' and 'Alex in Wonderland: Interview with Debbie Allen'. She was in the 2011 comedy short film 'Mousetrap', the 2015 drama 'Touched', and then her big breaks happened in the HBO comedy 'Ballers' before she went on to star in the titular role of Jan in the 2016 comedy 'Jean of the Joneses'.
Paige's other hit roles include several guest appearances on television, in the likes of shows such as 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'The Baxters'. Films to her credit include the 2018 crime drama 'White Boy Rick' and 2020's 'Zola' where she again played the titular role. Currently, she is set to appear in the upcoming Eddie Huang drama 'Boogie' expected to release in March 2021. This year Paige appears on our screens as the sizzling Dussie Ma — a fictional character envisioned by playwright Wilson in the play the Netflix film 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' is based on.
Much like the play, the film sees Dussie as a financially stable sugar baby of Ma Rainey, the iconic queer musician known for her explicit lyrics back in the '20s. In real life, Ma Rainey was a lesbian too, with rumors of her alleged sexual relationship with Bessie Smith making news even to this day in the wake of the film. But Dussie, a character in the film, was not inspired by a real person. Perhaps like Levee, she is based on what would later be labeled as a groupie of the singer, but there's no proof of this said Dussie existing or the plot of the film happening in real life.
The story of 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' is set in Chicago, 1927, and sees "Tensions rise when trailblazing blues singer Ma Rainey and her band gather at a recording studio in Chicago in 1927. Ma Rainey wants to record her song her way, while ambitious band member Levee wants to spin his own twist to the hit number. The White managers are siding with the latter, thus spurring the chain of events where Ma Rainey finds herself challenged both in terms of her music, and her lover, who's visibly stirring up a whirlwind with Levee as well. Dussie's betrayal towards Ma Rainey peaks when she tells Levee in the basement just floors below where her girlfriend is lodged that she will be his woman if he has his own band, and even though the eventual outcome is much different, it makes her almost unforgettable as the woman who dared cross the Mother of Blues.
'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' will be available for streaming from Friday, December 18, only on Netflix.