*The life of Aretha Franklin, will play out in theaters Friday with the debut of MGM pictures’ “Respect!”
The biopic stars Academy-Award winner Jennifer Hudson as the “Queen of Soul.” The film gives viewers a deep dive into Franklin’s personal and professional life at the height of her fame. It also looks at her involvement as an activist in the civil rights movement and her marriage to her manager, songwriter Ted White (Marlon Wayans).
As an audience, we’re more familiar with seeing Wayans in comedic roles. But, with stellar work in dramatic films like “Requiem for a Dream” and “Above the Rim” – audiences might be asking…what was it about the role of an unsavory character that attracted the comedian to the role of White?
“I thought he was a dynamic character,” said Wayans. “He’s the romantic lead and also the villain. I thought, ‘there’s so much meat on that bone,’ so much to play. He’s charming, but he’s shady. He was loving, and he was jealous. He was protective yet insecure. I love the divisiveness of the character and the dichotomy.”
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In the film, Franklin has to learn to free herself from an overly involved father and an overbearing husband. However, both think they know what’s best for her life and career. Wayans was asked if he learned anything surprising or new about the power dynamic of Black men and women during the 60s.
“This took place during the women’s movement and the civil rights movement,” said Wayans. “Damaged people, damage people. Black men were so beat down by white men that they would come home and beat their women. It was a vicious cycle. Ted was the exact representation of that. Hurt people, hurt people. And when you talk about a movie like “Respect,” it represents female empowerment. This movie was brought to you by a strong Black female director, a strong Black female lead. A strong Black female wrote the material. Kudos to the sisters ’cause you all are doing it!”
“Respect” also stars Forest Whitaker as C.L. Franklin, Audra McDonald as Barbara Franklin, Marc Maron as Jerry Wexler, Tituss Burgess as Reverend Dr. James Cleveland, Kimberly Scott as Mama Franklin, Saycon Sengbloh as Erma Franklin, Hailey Kilgore as Carolyn Franklin, Heather Headley as Clara Ward, Skye Dakota Turner as Young Aretha Franklin, Tate Donovan as John Hammond and Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington.
See #RespectMovie only in theaters on August 13, 2021.