To capture the talent of Aretha Franklin, as well as the talent of the influential people in her life, the new biopic Respect had to go big with its casting. Franklin's talent didn't develop out of nowhere; she had her reverend father and gospel singer mother and famous family friends like Dinah Washington, Smokey Washington and civil rights vanguard Martin Luther King, Jr. who nurtured her musical talent and her passion for social justice. The cast of Respect had some large shoes to fill, and they deliver.
Thanks to the likes of Jennifer Hudson (chosen by Franklin herself, prior to the singer's 2018 death), Forest Whitaker, Audra McDonald, Mary J. Blige, Marlon Wayans, and Heather Headley, Respect brings new life to the real people from Franklin's orbit. The film follows Franklin's life from age 10 to adulthood, closing with the recording of her 1972 gospel album Amazing Grace. The actors in Respect may be industry veterans, but the task here was a tough one; they essentially took a magnifying glass to several decades of Franklin's personal history, and American history.
These are the actors who brought Franklin's family and friends to life in Respect — and their real life inspirations.