A one-on-one with Jennifer Hudson on her role playing music legend Aretha Franklin in new film ‘Respect’

Film showcases Detroit in positive light, tells story of Queen of Soul and her rise to fame

Evrod Cassimy sits down with musician Jennifer Hudson
Evrod Cassimy sits down with musician Jennifer Hudson

DETROIT – I have loved Jennifer Hudson’s voice from the first note she sang on American Idol.

To see her now on the big screen playing yet another iconic role is exactly where she belongs.

I couldn’t think of a more perfect person to play Aretha Franklin than Hudson. I had never met her before until Sunday and I have even more respect for her artistry now more than ever.

She and I first met at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History Sunday afternoon ahead of the premiere of the film.

Read: ‘Her spirit was in the movie’ -- Aretha Franklin’s loved ones respond to biopic after Royal Oak premiere

Read more: Star of Aretha Franklin biopic comes to Metro Detroit for private screening of ‘Respect’

Hudson made sure to stop and take pictures with everyone in attendance before we all were invited for a sit down conversation with her and the film’s director, Liesl Tommy, moderated by the head of the museum.

From there Aretha Franklin’s close friends and family were invited to a private premiere where Hudson would also attend.

As a friend of Aretha’s it was like a big family reunion. When Jennifer arrived we chatted on camera ahead of seeing the film.

Respect is a wild ride capturing some pivotal moments in Aretha’s life and career.

Mary J. Blige, Forrest Whittaker and Marlon Wayans were excellent as to be expected. What struck me was the star I saw on screen was completely different than the one I had just spoken to on the red carpet.

Her speech pattern, her mannerisms, her walk had all changed to become Franklin.

It was remarkable. Let’s not even forget the singing. I was blown away. A perfect mix of music and storytelling.

Monday, I got to sit down with Hudson and Tommy to really dig deep into the film. We laughed as Hudson and I shared memories about Franklin and the messages she would send us via e-mail or text.

If you love Franklin, or even want to know more about who she was as a person Respect is a must see.

It shows Detroit in a good light and tells the story of the true Queen of Soul and her rise to fame.

Read even more: Aretha Franklin


About the Author:

Evrod Cassimy is the morning anchor for Local 4 News Today. He joined WDIV in August of 2013. He is an award winning journalist and a six-time Emmy Award nominee. Evrod was born in Michigan but grew up in the Chicagoland area.