A film still from “Respect” starring Jennifer Hudson. (MGM/YouTube)
Just a little bit! That’s how long we’ll have to wait before the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect hits theaters. Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls) stars as the “Queen of Soul” in this new film in live cinemas starting August 13.
The film employs several theater favorites, not the least of which is Hudson, who made her Broadway debut as Shug in the revival of The Color Purple and later played Motormouth Maybelle in NBC’s Hairspray Live!. Other featured Broadway alums include Tony winner Audra McDonald as Aretha’s mother Betty, Tony nominee Hayley Kilgore (Once On This Island) as Aretha’s younger sister Carolyn, Emmy nominee Tituss Burgess as singer James Cleveland, Tony winner Heather Headley as singer Clara Ward, and Tate Donovan as talent scout John Hammond.
Liesl Tommy, a Tony Award nominee for directing Danai Guriria’s Eclipsed, directs the musical film. Franklin herself was involved with the development up until her death on August 16, 2018.
The new film follows the life of Franklin, who sings in her father’s church choir as a child and grows up to become an international musical superstar and icon. Simultaneously, she endures an abusive marriage, constraints of patriarchy and racism amidst the Civil Rights Movement. See it in theaters starting August 13!