Respect‘s First Look of Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin Does the Icon Justice

An official clip of Jennifer Hudson performing “Respect” as Aretha Franklin in her biopic has been released.

The Oscar nominations for 2020 have not even been announced, and yet discussion of Jennifer Hudson angling for her second Academy Award for the 2021 Oscars season has already begun with the release of the first footage of Hudson as the late Aretha Franklin.

The film—appropriately titled Respect, after one of the singer’s most well known songs—will chronicle Franklin’s rise to stardom and Motown’s Queen of Soul.

In August 2018, the singer passed away at the age of 76. Hudson, who performed at Franklin’s funeral in Detroit, had already been in talks to portray the musician in a biopic long before her passing. Franklin had also been heavily involved with the project until the time of her death, and it was often reported that the icon was adamant about wanting Hudson to play her in the film.

The Queen of Soul even paid Hudson a visit four years ago, seeing her backstage on Broadway when Hudson starred as Shug Avery in The Color Purple.

Jennifer Hudson and Aretha Franklin backstage at The Color Purple on Broadway on December 15, 2015.

Bruce Glikas

Hudson herself has spoken on the challenge of portraying her idol in Respect, saying, “All I want to do is pay tribute to her and meet her requests.”

In January 2019, a director for the project had been decided—Liesl Tommy, who has directed episodes of Queen Sugar, Mrs. Fletcher, and The Incredible Jessica Jones as well as directed the Tony-nominated Broadway play Eclipsed with Lupita Nyong’o.

Alongside Hudson, Forrest Whittaker will play her father C. L. Franklin, Audra MacDonald will play her mother Barbara Siggers Franklin, and Marlon Wayans will play her first husband Ted White.

Mary J. Blige will also co-star as Dinah Washington, Marc Maron as producer Jerry Wexler, and Tituss Berguess as James Cleveland.

The Grammy and Academy Award winner may be on her Cats press tour right now, but she’ll likely be back on the awards season campaign trail again after Respect is released in theaters October 2020.

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