In 2007, Jennifer Hudson won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as singer Effie White in Dreamgirls. Judging by her performance at Sunday night’s 20th annual BET Awards, followed by a teaser for her upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic, Hudson should be getting started on her acceptance speech once more.
The singer took the virtual stage at the ceremony to pay tribute to the Queen of Soul with her 1972 classic “Young, Gifted and Black,” in line with the evening’s support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The teaser, which played immediately after, was a timely reminder of Franklin’s long history as a trailblazer and civil rights activist as well as her incredible stage presence.
Directed by acclaimed theater director Liesl Tommy in her feature directorial debut, Respect traces Franklin’s life from her childhood singing in a church choir in Detroit, Michigan, all the way through her meteoric rise to fame. The teaser opens with Hudson as Franklin in a sequined gold dress singing “Respect” as the word lights up in huge flashing letters in the background. Interspersed are scenes from her life and career, including a fateful meeting with Mary J. Blige at Dinah Washington, who tells young Aretha that she needs to “find the songs that move you.”
In another scene, a music executive played by Marc Maron asks condescendingly, “Aretha, you do talk don’t you, not just sing?”
“I’d like you to call me Ms. Franklin,” the singer replies. I think that’s called R-E-S-P-E-C-T!
With a story by Callie Khouri, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Thelma and Louise, and Tracey Scott Wilson (who also wrote the screenplay), the movie co-stars Audra McDonald, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Tituss Burgess, Saycon Sengbloh, Hailey Kilgore, Tate Donovan, Heather Headley, and Skye Dakota Turner. Franklin was reportedly involved in the film’s production, up until her death in 2018 at the age of 76. She reportedly picked Hudson for the role, and the actress sang “Amazing Grace” at her funeral.
In February, Hudson announced that she had wrapped on the film with an emotional post on Instagram.
“It is officially a wrap on @respectmovie wrap it up, it’s done!” she wrote. “Too overwhelmed to get into it right now but words can’t express how grateful I am to be chosen by the queen herself and to live out yet another dream! It was my honor, to honor the Queen’s request! The one and only Queen of Soul.”
View this post on Instagram
It is officially a wrap on @respectmovie wrap it up , it’s done ! To overwhelmed to get into it right now but words can’t express how grateful I am to be chosen by the queen herself and to live out yet another dream ! It was my honor , to honor the Queens request ! The one and only Queen of soul #ArethaFranklin #respectMovie @liesltommy
Though Respect was originally set for release in the fall, it was pushed back to December 25 — with a wide release to follow on January 15 — because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It looks like it’ll be well worth the wait, but in the meantime, you can play Hudson’s BET tribute on repeat.
.@iamjhud put us in our feelings with ""Young, Gifted, & Black"" #BETAwards" pic.twitter.com/NbUOTdHZEw— BET (@BET) June 29, 2020
Check out the full teaser, below.