Who Would You Pick To Play The Remarkable Bessie Stringfield In A Film?
Photo Credit: S & A

Who Would You Pick To Play The Remarkable Bessie Stringfield In A Film?

Bessie Stringfield

Here we go again with fantasy movie making. But who can you

blame? Like my recent piece about Bass

Reeves (HERE) there so many untold stories about extraordinary people that

beg for big screen treatment, you wonder why do they keep making black rom-coms

with Paula Patton or Taye Diggs?

Recently I was reading about the remarkable Bessie Stringfield who was known as the

Motorcycle Queen of Miamiand the

first thing that came to my mind was, of course, she would be a fantastic

subject for a movie.

Her story sounds like a screenwriter’s dream. Born in Jamaica in 1911, her parents migrated to Boston,

but later died when he was five, and she was eventually adopted by a white Irish


By the age of 16, however, she taught herself how to ride

a motorcycle and it became a life long love affair after that.

At the age of 19 in 1930, she started a cross country journey (the first black woman to do so) through

all 48 states (remember Hawaii and Alaska didn’t become U.S. States until 1959) and later rode through Europe, Brazil and Haiti.

She earned money by performing motorcycle stunts in carnival

shows though, of course, because of her race and sex, she endured endless

discrimination and racism. She was even forced to sleep outdoors or at gas stations, on her motorcycle, since hotels and lodgings refused

her accommodation.

She was even refused cash winnings from track races she won.

During World War II, she worked for the U.S. army as a

civilian motorcycle dispatch rider, crossing the country from coast to coast, some 8

times. The only woman in her unit, “she completed rigorous training maneuvers

and learned how to weave a makeshift bridge from rope and tree limbs to cross


In the 1950’s she moved to Miami where the local police

told her that “nigger women are not allowed to ride motorcycles.” But whoever told her that didn’t know Bessie, as she went on to form the Iron Horse Motorcycle Club, eventually owning

some 27 Harley Davidson motorcycles and kept on riding until her death

in 1993.

She became a motorcycle legend, and, in 2000, the American Motorcycle Association created the Bessie Stringfield

Memorial Award to recognize “outstanding achievement by a female


She got married and divorced six times. What a woman!

So with all that, if you were making a film about Stringfield, who would you cast for the role?

First of all, you need a WOMAN for the part. I mean an adult,

mature actress who’s feisty, independent and resilient, who’s been knocked down

in life a couple of times, and has gotten back up every time. Someone who’s

lived a life.

Which means that all those young, skinny, spoiled Hollywood

actresses whose only major angst in life is what weave to wear, are all totally

wrong. And NO Beyonce. And NO Rihanna.

My choice would surprise you, but the person who immediately

came to my mind for the role is Mo’Nique.

He said


Yes! Let’s face it – she has all the qualities I’ve mentioned

that would be needed for someone to play the role; and besides, have you seen her

lately? She’s looks fantastic after losing nearly 100 pounds thanks a strict diet and exercise regimen.

True, she does have a well-deserved reputation for being… shall I say …”difficult.”  But she could be a different person now, especially

since she hasn’t done anything since Precious. 

And, yes, you would need a strong

director to keep her from going off into her Mo’ Nique-ismsif you know what I

mean. But I think she would be perfect.

Who would you choose?

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