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Chicago native Jennifer Hudson stars as the “Queen of Soul”

Jennifer Hudson stars as Aretha.

“Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, we know her as this legend, but there is a story to everyone. Her life had so much depth to it, and it came through the music.”—Jennifer Hudson

“My dream for the film — and for Aretha and her legacy — was to create a piece of cinema that feels like a classic you have to see in a movie theater. You have to see it on a big screen because her life was so big it deserved that.”—Liesl Tommy, director of “Respect.”

The movie “Respect” follows the rise of Aretha Franklin from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom and is the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice.

Earlier this year NatGeo provided a series on Aretha Franklin as part of its “Genius” series—with Aretha being only the third individual to be covered, along with Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso as the other two to have been celebrated for their influence on society overall.

Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin
MARC MARON STARS as Jerry Wexler, Marlon Wayans as Ted White and Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin. (Photos by Quantrell D. Colbert)

Many folks, through social media, publicly criticized that series and the work of Cynthia Erivo as Aretha. Hudson playing Aretha in this new film has reportedly been sanctioned by Aretha. So now Aretha’s fans can see another version of the superstar’s life starting as a preacher’s daughter in Detroit. 

See “Respect” only in theaters on August 13, 2021, starring Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin; Forest Whitaker as C.L. Franklin; Marlon Wayans as Ted White; Audra McDonald as Barbara Franklin; Marc Maron as Jerry Wexler; Tituss Burgess as Reverend Dr. James Cleveland; Kimberly Scott as Mama Franklin; Saycon Sengbloh as Erma Franklin; Hailey Kilgore as Carolyn Franklin; Heather Headley as Clara Ward; Skye Dakota Turner as Young Aretha Franklin; Tate Donovan as John Hammond and Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington. 

Director Liesl Tommy makes her feature film debut with “Respect.” Tommy is the first Black woman ever nominated for a Tony award for Best Direction of a Play in 2016 for Eclipsed and is an Associate Artist at the Berkeley Rep and an Artist Trustee with the Sundance Institute’s Board of Trustees.

Check your local listings for more information.     

Elaine Hegwood Bowen is a National Newspaper Publishers Association ‘Entertainment Writing’ award winner, contributor to “Rust Belt Chicago” and the author of “Old School Adventures from Englewood—South Side of Chicago.” For book information, search [] or email: [email protected].

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