First ‘Respect’ trailer drops for Aretha Franklin biopic

Two powerhouse vocalists converge in the biopic that Franklin approved before she died

Jennifer Hudson attends the world premiere of "Cats" at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Before Aretha Franklin died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 78 two years ago, she had approved singer/actress Jennifer Hudson as the right person to play her in a biopic. Now that biopic, Respect is in the can and Hudson’s powerful pipes are at the center of the trailer that just dropped.

READ MORE: ‘Respect’ and ‘Genius: Aretha’ release dates delayed by coronavirus

Co-starring Marlon Wayans and Forest Whitaker, the cast also includes powerhouse vocalists Heather Headley and Audra McDonald as well as Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Tate Donovan, and Titus Burgess.



According to Deadline, Hudson was announced as Franklin’s choice for the biopic at Clive Davis‘ annual pre-Grammy party in 2018. The Chicago-born singer was first discovered as a contestant on Season 3 of  American Idol.

In 2007, Hudson won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Dreamgirls for her portrayal of Effie White, the singer pushed out of a 60’s era girl group by Beyonce‘s character, Deena Jones. The 2006 film is based on the Broadway play believed to be loosely based on the Supremes.

Franklin’s six-decade career as the Queen of Soul earned her 18 Grammy awards, a Presidental Medal of Freedom awarded by Barack Obama, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the NAACP Hall of Fame and many other accolades.

Franklin also sang at three presidential inaugurations (Carter, Clinton, and Obama) and was an activist/philanthropist who supported the NAACP, the Special Olympics, and more. But more than anything else, she was a cultural institution.

So much so that her televised funeral was likely the longest in music history and attracted celebrities from music, politics, sports, and the arts, and a music amphitheater was renamed in her honor in her native Detroit after her death. Hudson sang “Amazing Grace” at Franklin’s funeral.

READ MORE: Aretha Franklin’s former lover, Willie Wilkerson, dies of coronavirus at 72

The biopic, directed by Liesl Tommy and co-written by Callie Khouri (Thelma and Louise) and Tracey Scott Wilson (The Americans.).  Respect is scheduled to be released in theaters this December. Check out the trailer below.


Have you subscribed to theGrio’s new podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!