Angela Bassett was a young actress on the rise in the early 1990s when she had the life-changing opportunity to play Tina Turner in the iconic biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It. Bassett earned her first Oscar nomination for the role, portraying the “Proud Mary” singer in all her complexities and immortalizing the queen of rock ‘n’ roll’s story on screen forever.
What’s Love Got to Do With It turns 30 this year, and while Turner has retired to a quiet life in Switzerland, she found time to give Bassett her flowers to mark the occasion. The Black Panther: Wakanda Forever star is among those named the most influential people of 2023 for TIME magazine’s annual “TIME100” list. Turner herself wrote Bassett’s dedication and reflected on the magical casting process for the movie.
“Someone’s going to play me in What’s Love Got to Do With It? I was a little bit skeptical when work began on the 1993 film,” the 83-year-old rock star wrote. “First of all, who are they going to find to sing, dance, and act like me? Then, I looked up, saw Angela, and immediately started to smile.”
Turner then spoke directly to the How Stella Got Her Groove Back star. “Angela, the first time we met, you didn’t look, sound, or move like me — that came later after you worked so hard to make it happen. But even then, I could see that the young woman standing before me had strength, determination, and big, big dreams, just like me,” the singer gushed.
“‘She’s perfect,’ I said, and I was right,” Turner continued. “You never mimicked me. Instead, you reached deep into your soul, found your inner Tina, and showed her to the world. That’s your gift, becoming your character with conviction, truth, dignity, and grace, even when it’s painful, and takes everything you have and more. It’s not just acting, it’s being.”
The “Private Dancer” songstress concluded her touching tribute by commending Bassett’s ability to bring any role to life, regardless of difficulty, because of her own self-confidence. “Whether you’re Tina Turner or the Queen of Wakanda, we believe in you because you believe in yourself,” she adulated. “You honor all the women you play, just as you honored me. And you’re still perfect.”
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