Jennifer Hudson was handpicked by Ms. Aretha Franklin herself to portray the late singer in a biopic. But that’s not the only project in the works that is celebrating the life of the “Respect” singer.

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Cynthia Erivo is slated to star as Franklin in the National Geographic network’s limited series Genius: Aretha.

The TV series has an impressive team consisting of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks as the showrunner, who will also executive produce alongside Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, music mogul Clive Davis, Atlantic Records Chairman, and CEO Craig Kallman and Ken Biller of Fox 21 Television Studios and Imagine Television Studios.


But according to Hudson, Aretha wanted to be on the big screen or not at all. During a conversation with Entertainment Weekly, the Academy Award-winner said Aretha was “adamant that [her life] be a film. If it’s not a film, it’s nothing. I’m just honored that she picked me to play her. I mean, who can say that? And again, I would have never done it without her wishes.”

In the wide-range interview, Jennifer Hudson admitted that she re-reads conversations with Aretha for inspiration.

Respect starring Hudson as Aretha also stars Forest Whitaker as Franklin’s famous father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, alongside Audra McDonald, Mary J. Blige, and Marlon Wayans.

Following a limited release on Christmas Day, the biopic will be released on January 15, 2021.