Tony Nominee Makes Her Directorial Debut with Aretha Franklin Film Starring Jennifer Hudson

Posted: May 19, 2021 8:05 PM

American Idol contest Jennifer Hudson won her Academy Award for her first ever movie role in "Dreamgirls." Her latest film, "Respect" is being directed by Liesel Tommy, which is her first film. Not only is this Tommy's directorial debut, but she is also the first Black nominee to be nominated for a Tony for Best Direction of a Play, with "Eclipsed."

"Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, RESPECT is the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice," reads a film description provided to Townhall.

Tommy and Hudson aren't the only ones on the film's team with such an impressive resume, however. Other Academy Award nominated and winning stars include Forest Whitaker and Mary J. Blige. Tony winner Heather Headley is also featured in the film. Other cast members include Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Marc Maron, and Titus Burgess.

In an EW interview last October, Hudson shared that not long after she won the Oscar for her role in "Dreamgirls," Franklin herself met with Hudson to predict she would win the award for this film as well, almost 15 years ago. "We met in New York, and one of the first things she said to me was ‘You’re gonna win another Oscar for playing me, right?’ Imagine Aretha Franklin looking you in the face and saying that," Hudson shared.

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Callie Khouri, who won her Academy Award for writing "Thelma & Louise," came up with the story along with Tracey Scott Wilson, the latter who wrote the screenplay. Wilson won a Peabody Award and was nominated for an Emmy and WGA Award for her writing of "The Americans."

The trailer for the film, which comes to theaters on August 13, was released on Wednesday.