The booming thunder of Jennifer Hudson’s singing voice has the power and ability to enter a room before she does. When she sat down with The Root to talk about her upcoming portrayal of the late Aretha Franklin in Respect, though, it wasn’t just her singing voice we discussed—it was the overall showcasing of who she is and how she claims her own empowerment.
Here’s the synopsis of the film directed by Liesl Tommy, via the official press release sent to The Root:
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.
In the film, it is readily apparent that Aretha’s major arc is her growth from being silenced by various traumas to reclaiming her voice and power with intentionality. Similarly, Jennifer has stated that she could relate to Aretha in many ways. So, how did Jennifer find her own voice?
“I’m still finding [my voice]. That’s the gift I got from the film. It allowed me to trust it that much more,” Jennifer told The Root. “Seeing an example of that through Aretha empowered me to trust that voice, own that voice [and] take authority over it.”
Of course, Jennifer always gets this question during press interviews, but I had to have her answer on the record—what’s her favorite Aretha song? She actually did go with the titular song, but it’s not because it’s the mainstream popular (or easy) pick; it’s because it challenged her the most when she performed it for the film. Get into her answer about that as well as the full conversation in the video above!
Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Forest Whitaker and more hits theaters on Aug. 13.