Jennifer Hudson carries forward Aretha Franklin’s legacy in a new MGM biopic, titled ‘Respect‘. The official trailer of the much awaited film first debuted on the virtual BET awards, this Sunday night. The American award show is an annual celebration of African Americans and other American minorities in music, acting, sports, and other fields of entertainment.
The trailer’s debut came shortly after Hudson’s stunning performance of Franklin’s “Young, Gifted and Black.” Jennifer Hudson, dressed to the nines in a stunning emerald green gown. She belted out the soulful number on a Grand white piano while backup dancers filled the stage.
Heights of soul stardom
The 1 minute 30 second trailer showcases a dazzling Jennifer Hudson channeling the Queen of Soul. Directed by Liesl Tommy, Respect tracks Franklin’s life as from a child singing in her father’s church choir to an international superstar. The film covers Aretha’s glamorous stage performances to her work and impact on the Civil Rights movement.
The new teaser gives us a glimpse into several scenes from the movie, including a powerful dialogue on social activism. Jennifer Hudson, portraying Franklin, tells gathered reporters. “You have to disturb the peace, when you can’t get no peace.”
Actresses Saycon Sengbloh and Hailey Kilgore are playing the singer’s sisters Erma and Carolyn Franklin. Actress Mary J. Blige appears as Dinah Washington, who advises the young starlet, “Find the songs that move you.”
Actor-comedian Marc Maron plays a record executive and label mentor Jerry Wexler, who appears early in Franklin’s Atlantic Records tenure. Wexler addresses the rising artist as “Aretha.” However, she politely but firmly responds, “I’d like you to call me Miss Franklin.”
‘Hudson was hand-picked by Aretha’
A lot of people don’t know that Jennifer Hudson was hand-picked by Aretha herself to portray her on screen. Hudson, who has won an Oscar for her role in 2006’s Dreamgirls, opened up on The Kelly Clarkson Show last year.
Hudson revealed that Franklin went to see her in a production of The Color Purple. “She’s an iconic figure that we all love, respect and admire,” the American Idol alum recalled. “She (Aretha) called me and she was like, ‘I made my decision and it is you I want, to play me. But don’t you tell anyone,’ revealed Jennifer Hudson, to which she replied, “Ma’am, I won’t say a thing. I’ll do whatever you tell me to do.”
Aretha Franklin died of pancreatic cancer at the age 76. She was a part of the film’s production up until her death in 2018. The Queen of Soul received 18 Grammy Awards and was nominated 44 times during her prolific career.
The film, which was originally scheduled to release in August, was pushed back due to the corona virus pandemic. “Respect” is now reportedly set to hit the theaters for a limited release in the U.S. on Christmas Day. Before a full worldwide release on January 15, 2021.