By: Nsenga K. Burton Ph.D.

Jennifer Hudson, who Franklin hand-picked to play her before her death in 2018, rose to fame as a contestant on American Idol in 2004. Hudson was lambasted by cantankerous host Simon Cowell who said Hudson was “out of her depth” in the contest and would not make it in the industry. Three years later, Cowell issued a public mea culpa saying he was “wrong” about Hudson after she won the 2007 Academy Award for best-supporting actress in her breakout role as Effie White in Bill Condon’s film version of Dreamgirls.

Academy award-winning actress and Grammy award-winner Jennifer Hudson has made a triumphant return to the big screen in the role of a lifetime, starring as Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Named for one of Franklin’s greatest hits, Respect, a biopic written by Tracey Scott Wilson and directed by Liesl Tommy, takes viewers on a journey through Franklin’s tumultuous life. Despite all of the personal obstacles and professional challenges, Franklin who was lauded and often described as a genius because of her impeccable musicianship, empowering writing and powerful performances, rose above the setbacks becoming the voice of a generation.

Hudson, who Franklin hand-picked to play her before her death in 2018, rose to fame as a contestant on American Idol in 2004. Hudson was lambasted by cantankerous host Simon Cowell who said Hudson was “out of her depth” in the contest and would not make it in the industry. Three years later, Cowell issued a public mea culpa saying he was “wrong” about Hudson after she won the 2007 Academy Award for best supporting actress in her breakout role as Effie White in Bill Condon’s film version of Dreamgirls.

Hudson’s self-titled debut album would go on to win the Grammy for Best R&B album in 2008. In October of that same year, Hudson’s mother and nephew were tragically killed in a domestic violence incident. Like Franklin, Hudson’s young life was marked by obstacles and tragedies. Like Franklin, she rose above them and continued to build and maintain a celebrated career.

In a virtual interview with Hudson, the two-time Grammy winner discusses what she has in common with Franklin, most of which is faith.” I think her faith was everything and mine as well. That’s what got me through this because I wouldn’t have been able to do this without it,” says Hudson. “It’s her base. It’s who she is. When you leave the church and go beyond, people think you left the church but that’s what actually carries you through,” Hudson adds.

Hailey Kilgore stars as Carolyn Franklin, Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin and Saycon Sengbloh as Erma Franklin in
A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film
Photo credit: Quantrell D. Colbert


Like Franklin, Hudson began singing in the church and went on to gain superstardom in the R&B world. “I think it’s so powerful the film starts in the church and ends in the church,” says the woman who recently sang at Franklin’s home church, New Bethel Baptist Church. Hudson says she “had to do it” because being in that space was familiar and moved her. Like Aretha, faith is central to Hudson’s life and needed to be central to the film.

“That (faith) was most important to me and to have that faith maintained throughout the film,” offers Hudson. “Even though she sang many genres, gospel was always her base and that’s what got her through everything musically.”

Faith is woven throughout the film and there is something for everyone in the film Hudson declares. The Academy Award winner says this film is for all audiences – women, spiritual people, dreamers and those who may have had big dreams and suffered setbacks.

What is Hudson’s takeaway from Aretha Franklin’s life? “The takeaway for me was just owning your voice. It wasn’t until Aretha owned her voice [that] we all got our Queen of Soul.”

RESPECT premieres in theaters Friday, August 13, 2021.

This article was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., NNPA Culture and Entertainment Editor and the founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual. Follow The Burton Wire on Instagram or Twitter @TheBurtonWire. 

October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

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