Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Cast: Where You've Seen Them Before

Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom's Poster

This week, following its limited theatrical release, Netflix unveils their latest awards contender, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, based on the 1982 play of the same name by August Wilson. Produced by Denzel Washington and starring Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman in his final film appearance, this streaming-friendly adaptation of the acclaimed stage production received voluminous praise from early reviews, particularly for its two central performances — though it should be noted that this prestigious cast list is filled with standout talents, both established and up-and-coming, and the entire ensemble deserves to be recognized.

If you're wondering why Ma Rainey's Black Bottom's cast looks so familiar, we're here to help. This is where you've seen the actors behind Netflix's latest Oscar contender.

Viola Davis - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Viola Davis (Ma Rainey)

As the titular Ma Rainey, a famous blues singer, Viola Davis plays the lead in Netflix's adaptation of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Having won an Oscar, an Emmy, and two Tony awards, there's no denying that Davis is one of our finest, most versatile, and most acclaimed working actresses, and she's continuously proving her dynamic talents in a number of prestigious projects. Certainly, Ma Rainey is no exception. It's also far from the first time Davis earned a wealth of acclaim for performing August Wilson's words.

Specifically, Viola Davis won her two Tony awards for her 2001 Broadway performance in August Wilson's King Headley II and her 2010 leading part in Broadway's revival of Wilson's Fences, respectively. Later, Davis won her Oscar for reprising this role in 2016's film adaptation of Fences. And in 2015, the multi-award-winning actress became the first Black woman to receive the Primetime Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama Series for playing the main character in ABC's How to Get Away with Murder.

Additionally, Viola Davis is well-recognized and well-acclaimed for her exceptional performances in Doubt and The Help, both of which were Oscar-nominated. The actress also had standout or notable performances in Widows, Suicide Squad, Out of Sight, Antwone Fisher, Solaris, Get Rich or Die Tryin', Disturbia, Eat Pray Love, Won't Back Down, Prisoners, Ender's Game, Lila & Eve, Blackhat, and Get On Up. Additionally, earlier this year, Davis starred in Troop Zero. Next, Davis will be seen in The Suicide Squad, The Woman King, and an untitled drama film with Sandra Bullock.

Chadwick Boseman - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Chadwick Boseman (Levee)

In his final screen performance, Chadwick Boseman took on the role of Levee, a trumpet player, in Netflix's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Most famously, the lamented actor played T'Challa/Black Panther in 2018's Best Picture-nominated Black Panther, as well as Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. The actor also gained notice and acclaim for portraying Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get On Up, and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. His other film credits include The Express: The Ernie Davis Story, Draft Day, Gods of Egypt, The Kill Hole, Message from the King, and 2019's 21 Bridges, which he also produced.

Additionally, on television, Chadwick Boseman had recurring roles in All My Children and Lincoln Heights and a main role in Persons Unknown. He also guest-starred on Law & Order, CSI: NY, Cold Case, Fringe, ER, Lie to Me, Justified, and Castle. Outside of his acting credits, Boseman was a playwright.

Earlier this year, Chadwick Boseman starred in Da 5 Bloods. He'll also be posthumously heard in Disney+'s What If?

Glynn Turman, Chadwick Boseman - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Glynn Turman (Toledo)

As Toledo, the pianist, Glynn Turman plays a prominent role in Netflix's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. An actor of the stage and screen, as well as a writer, director, and producer, Turman is best known for his television work in The Wire, A Different World, Peyton Place, and House of Lies, as well as his Emmy-winning work in In Treatment and his Emmy-nominated performance in How to Get Away with Murder. He's also known for playing the lead character in 1975's Cooley High, as well as his other film performances in Gremlins, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Men of Honor, Sahara, Super 8, Burlesque, Race, Bumblebee, J.D.'s Revenge, Light It Up, John Dies at the End, and Sextuplets.

Additionally, Glynn Turman played recurring roles in shows like Mr. Mercedes, The Defenders, Murder She Wrote, and Resurrection Blvd. Most recently, the actor starred in the newest season of FX's Fargo. Also, earlier this year, Turman appeared in The Way Back and guest-starred in black-ish and Power Book II: Ghost, while also doing voice work for Close Enough.

Colman Domingo - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Colman Domingo (Cutler)

In the role of Cutler, the trombonist, Colman Domingo plays one of the key band members in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Currently, Domingo can be seen in AMC's Fear the Walking Dead, where he also directs. The actor also appeared in Lincoln, Miracle at St. Anna, The Butler, Selma, Red Hook Summer, Assassination Nation, First Match, Lucy in the Sky, If Beale Street Could Talk, The Birth of a Nation (2016), True Crime, Freedomland, and 42.

Additionally, on television, Colman Domingo had a recurring role in The Knick and made appearances in Nash Bridges, Law & Order, The Big Gay Sketch Show, Lucifer, Horace and Pete, and Timeless. He's also heard in BoJack Horseman, American Dad!, and Miles from Tomorrowland. In addition to all his screen credits, he's an accomplished veteran stage actor, writer, and director.

Most recently, Colman Domingo played a recurring role in HBO's Euphoria. He also guest-starred in a recent episode of The Twilight Zone. Next, Domingo stars in Zola, The God Committee, Candyman (2021), and Tom Clancy's Without Remorse.

Michael Potts - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Michael Potts (Slow Drag)

Playing the part of Slow Drag, the bassist, Michael Potts is another bandmate at the center of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Another actor of the stage and screen, Potts is most well-known for his performances in The Wire and True Detective Season 1, as well as his stage work in The Book of Mormon. His other recurring television roles include Show Me A Hero, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Damages, Madam Secretary, Nurse Jackie, and Gotham, as well as guest star appearances in Person of Interest, Elementary, Random Acts of Flyness, Blue Bloods, Oz, NYPD Blue, She's Gotta Have It, Taken, and White Collar. Additionally, his film credits include Hackers, The Peacemaker, Conspiracy Theory, Let Me Make You A Martyr, and Here and Now.

Earlier this year, Michael Potts appeared in God Friended Me. He also starred in Cicada, which has been hitting the film festival circuits. Next, he'll star in Welcome Home and Measure of Revenge.

Taylour Paige's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Poster

Taylour Paige (Dussie Mae)

As Dussie Mae, Ma's girlfriend, Taylour Paige plays a central romantic character in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Outside of this performance, Paige is best known for playing one of the main characters in VH1's Hit the Floor. She also played the lead role in Jean of the Joneses and she was seen in White Boy Rick, Touched, and High School Musical 3: Senior Year. Additionally, Paige starred in The Baxters and made guest star appearances in Grey's Anatomy and Ballers.

Recently, Taylour Paige played the title role in A24's buzzy Zola, which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Its wide release is currently unannounced. Next, she'll star in Eddie Haung's directorial debut, Boogie, which comes out on March 5th, 2021.

Dusan Brown, Viola Davis - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Dusan Brown (Sylvester)

In the role of Sylvester, Ma's nephew, Dusan Brown received one of his biggest roles to date in Netflix's adaptation of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Prior to this performance, the former child actor did voice work in The Lion Guard and Blaze and the Monster Machines. He also previously worked with Chadwick Boseman in 42. Additionally, Brown's other television credits include Community, About a Boy, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Kroll Show, iZombie, Those Who Can't, Criminal Minds, and Jamall & Gerald.

Jonny Coyne - Manhattan

Jonny Coyne (Sturdyvant)

Playing the part of Sturdyvant, the studio owner, Jonny Coyne plays a notable supporting character in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. The English actor is primarily known for his television work, which includes Once Upon a Time, 11.22.63, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Turn: Washington's Spies, The Blacklist, Mom, Manhattan, The Bill, The Night Of, Twin Peaks, and the short-lived Fox series, Alcatraz. He also played a recurring role in Preacher and he recently starred in The Trial of Christine Keeler.

Outside of Ma Rainey, Jonny Coyne's other film credits include Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Secrets & Lies, Nightcrawler, The Hangover Part III, Gangster Squad, London Boulevard, Would You Rather, Beirut, and The Nutcracker in 3D.

Jeremy Shamos - Chicago PD

Jeremy Shamos (Irvin)

As Irvin, Ma's manager, Jeremy Shamos plays another notable supporting character in Netflix's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. A Tony-nominated actor for his performance in Clybourne Park, Shamos is a character actor of the stage and screen who's been seen in films like Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), The Big Sick, Magic in the Moonlight, The Rebound, Taking Woodstock, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her, and Dedication. Also, the actor played recurring characters in Nurse Jackie and Better Call Saul, and he made guest star appearances in Succession, Bull, Chicago P.D., Elementary, Law & Order: SVU, Fosse/Verdon, The Affair, The Good Wife, Evil, Prodigal Son, Instinct, Blindspot, The Blacklist, and Damages.

Earlier this year, Jeremy Shamos starred in HBO's Bad Education and heplayed a recurring role in The Undoing.

Joshua Harto - The Dark Knight

Joshua Harto (Policeman)

In the part of a policeman, Joshua Harto is another supporting player in Netflix's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Prior to this role, Harto was seen in The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Bridges of Spies, Iron Man 3, The Lifeguard, Gold, The Last Word, and The Believer. Additionally, he appeared in episodes of Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, Strangers with Candy, The Practice, That's So Raven, Crossing Jordan, Without a Trace, Cold Case, JAG, and Veronica Mars. Harto can also be seen in Justified, Invasion, Blue Bloods, Deception, Get Shorty, and Oz.

Earlier this year, Joshua Harto guest-starred in Magnum P.I. He also recently starred in Gutterbee, which entered the film festival circuits last year.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is available to stream on Netflix starting December 18th. You can watch it here.

Will Ashton

Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.