Mary J. Blige and Angela Bassett will kick off Lifetime network's Black History Month celebration with the original movie "Betty & Coretta" on Saturday.
Blige portrays Betty Shabazz, the wife of human rights activist Malcolm X, while Bassett is cast as Coretta Scott King, wife of civil rights activist and reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The original film chronicles the close bond formed between the two women behind the well known black activists who were both gunned down during the United States civil rights era.
While Shabazz' husband was a Muslim and King's was a Christian they shared similarities. Both women forged on to see their significant others' dreams for a better world become a reality, and both faced extreme opposition while raising children as single parents.
Although a number of films and stories have been retold about X and King respectively, Lifetime is giving viewers the opportunity to view a different type of tale that focuses on the friendship of two well-known women whose stories may have been overshadowed by their famed husbands' legacies.
In an interview with "The View," Bassett ,an Oscar-nominated actress, spoke about the bond between the two women who had a lot in common.
"I think ultimately the ideologies were different, but the intent at the center of it was the same," Bassett said of Shabazz and King. "The intent was the same but the way they went about it was different."
Blige may be a 9-time Grammy award-winning singer, but she co-produced the film with her husband Kendu Isaacs. The singer revealed why she thought it was so important to help bring the film to life.
"Women never get a chance when they are behind powerful men," Blige said on "The View." "They never get a chance to tell their stories and what they're dealing with. I wanted people to see what Betty and Coretta had to deal with, and how everyone's not so perfect."
Aside from Bassett and Blige, the film's cast includes Malik Yoba as Martin Luther King, Lindsay Owen Pierre as Malcolm X and Ruby Dee as a witness narrating the story.