Aretha Franklin’s impact on music and popular culture is undeniable. The undisputed Queen of Soul’s career brought us hits like “Rock Steady,” “Natural Woman,” and, of course “Respect,” among many others. Outside of music, Franklin was a civil rights activist who knew that, in her words, “you got to disturb the peace when you can’t get no peace.” Now, her life and legacy will be documented in Respect, an upcoming film starring Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin. If there was any doubt (why would there be?) that Hudson couldn’t step into Franklin’s heels, then it will be all gone after watching this Respect teaser.
In the video, Hudson (as Franklin) stands alone with a microphone as she starts to belt out “Respect.” The camera pans out to reveal stage lights and the word RESPECT in lights behind the singer. She sings a few more lines from the song before the end of the teaser encourages fans to find out what Respect really means in theaters next year.
Many people will remember Hudson from Dreamgirls in which she played Effie White, who is based on Supremes singer Florence Ballard. Her performance was a standout among an all-star cast, garnering several accolades including an Academy Award, and led to her rise as a singer and artist.
Jennifer Hudson certainly has the looks and the vocal range to tackle this role and it will be exciting to see it play out onscreen. Portraying Franklin is a full circle for Hudson. The actress and singer performed Aretha Franklin’s “Share Your Love with Me” for the American Idol audition that introduced her to the world.
Hudson also performed at Franklin’s lengthy celebration of life in 2018, so it feels right for her to lead this biopic. Plus, according to Entertainment Weekly, Franklin was involved in the biopic and allegedly picked Jennifer Hudson to take on the role. And, when the Queen speaks, everyone listens.
Hudson will be joined by Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Mary J. Blige, Tituss Burgess, Kimberly Scott, Lodric D. Collins, and Marc Maron. Whitaker will take on the role as Franklin’s prominent minister father and McDonald as the singer’s mother. Blige, Maron, and Collins are portraying several well-known artists and industry creatives who were close to Franklin—Dinah Washington, Jerry Wexler, and Smokey Robinson, respectively.
It’s not clear if any other famous faces will appear in Respect nor what these actors look like in their roles (yet) but that information will come as the film’s debut nears. Skye Dakota Turner, a 10-year-old singer who rose to fame on social media, will portray Franklin in her youth.
It remains to see how deep this biopic will dive into Aretha’s complex personal life, which included her becoming a mom at a young age and surviving an abusive marriage. But one thing fans can count on is seeing how music and faith made an impact at an early age and how she rose to fame.
It may sound a bit cliché, but perhaps Jennifer Hudson was born to portray the Queen of Soul.
Image Credit: Universal Pictures UK/YouTube