Jennifer Hudson covers the special September issue of Ebony Magazine; the singer opens up about honoring Aretha Franklin in her newly released biopic, ‘Respect,’ the importance of forgiveness and how it contributes to her success.
Hudson has always had tremendous respect for the Queen of Soul. In 2004, Hudson impressed judges with her vocal range by performing Franklin’s hit song “Share Your Love With Me.” The respect and admiration between the two artists were mutual. Before her death in 2018, Franklin selected Hudson to portray her. Hudson believes that this moment is a direct reflection of god’s influence.
“I’ve seen God work too many times not to be able to recognize that this time around, it’s Him,” Hudson tells Ebony explains. “Her saying, ‘Jennifer, play me,’ is beyond singing and acting.”
To accurately depict the music icon, Hudson drew from personal experiences of despair. At the age of 9, Franklin lost her mother, Barabara Siggers-Franklin. Her father, C.L. Franklin, was killed in a home invasion by intruders. Like Franklin, Hudson has experienced the overwhelming sadness of losing a close family member in a tragic incident.
In 2008, the Oscar winner’s mother, brother, and nephew were killed by another family member. Hudson has always drawn from past emotions and situations to fuel her artistry.
“I’m not afraid to bare it [all] and allow it to show in that way,” she explains. “I look at our stories like a testimony. I feel as though I’m telling her story through my own pain. I don’t think I would have been able to do this when we first had a conversation about it. I needed to live. I needed to have my own experiences. Every tear, every emotion—it costs, so I [made sure to handle the role with care].”
Identifying the pain Franklin felt didn’t make the role easier, but it deepened Hudson’s respect and understanding of Franklin.
“I feel as though I’m telling [Aretha franklin’s] story through my own pain,” Hudson says. “I don’t think I would have been able to do this when we first had a conversation about it. I needed to live. I needed to have my own experiences.”
Hudson’s portrayal of the icon has garnered international praise. According to the BBC, the Hollywood Reporter says, “Respect gives the Queen of Soul the regal treatment she deserves.”
The Wrap’s Elizabeth Weitzman referred to Hudson’s performance as joyful to watch.
“It’s a joy to watch her [Jennifer Hudson] transform from a shy preacher’s daughter to a Queen, and it’s no surprise that the film’s essential moments are its musical ones.”
Be sure to watch the bold, beautiful and talented Jennifer Hudson portrayal of the legendary Aretha Franklin in the upcoming biopic, ‘Respect’ is in theaters now.