Diana Ross was the lead singer of the music group, The Supremes in the 1960s. After several years of being deemed the “no-hit Supremes,” the band became stars with their breakthrough hit, “Where Did My Love Go.” In 1970, Ross left the group to launch her solo career. However, the times the Supremes shared inspired the 1980s musical and 2006 movie, Dreamgirls. Beyoncé starred in the film as Deena Jones, a character loosely based on Ross.
Why Diana Ross didn’t see ‘Dreamgirls’
In April 2007, Ross opened up about how she felt about Dreamgirls. During her interview with The Detroit News, the “Love Hangover” singer said she hadn’t watched Dreamgirls in the months since it debuted in Dec. 2006. The 77-year-old artist explained that she had mixed feelings about the film. Due to the similarities between the fictional group, The Dreams, and The Supremes, Ross worried the audience would think everything in the movie happened in real life.
“I have not seen Dreamgirls because I know it is not our story, and I know that they have taken images and likenesses of our story and used that,” she said, per Evening Standard.
“So I’m confused as to how I should react because I’m complimented on one hand, but it’s not something that’s true. People are going to think there’s some truth there when there’s not.”
How ‘Dreamgirls’ used Diana Ross and The Supremes as inspiration
Dreamgirls first opened on Broadway in Dec. 1981. Once it premiered, many viewers compared the show to Berry Gordy’s company, Motown. The Detroit-based record company was home to iconic acts like The Temptations, The Jackson 5, and The Supremes. Through Motown, the original supremes, Ross, Florence Ballard, and Mary Wilson, churned out hit songs like “Back In My Arms Again” and “Baby Love.” However, the group’s fame took a toll on their personal lives, including Ballard and Ross’s friendship. Eventually, Ballard left The Supremes and replaced by Cindy Birdsong. Throughout their fame, rumors also surfaced about Ross and Gordy’s relationship. Although they both dated and married other people, the pair quietly had a daughter, Rhonda Ross, in 1971.
In 2006, Dreamgirls debuted as a feature film. For the movie adaptation, Beyoncé played Deena, a singer who was determined to become a star. Dreamgirls also starred Jennifer Hudson as Effie White, Anika Noni Rose as Lorrell Robinson, and Jamie Foxx as Curtis Taylor, Jr. After the movie came out, several moviegoers compared Beyoncé to Ross. Although Deena and Curtis, the band’s manager, getting married and Deena becoming the band’s lead singer, Beyoncé confirmed that Dreamgirls isn’t about Ross and The Supremes.
“Deena is not Diana Ross,” the singer shared with Oprah.com. “It was very clear that a lot of the storylines never happened to Diana. I kind of borrowed some of her posture and makeup, but it stops there. She’s definitely stronger and has a different story.”
Ross is the only member of the original Supremes who is still alive. On Feb. 22, 1976, Ballard died of coronary artery thrombosis. Additionally, Wilson died in her sleep on Feb. 12, 2021.