‘Respect’: Why ‘Faith is Very Important’ to Jennifer Hudson

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T” isn’t the only significant point in Respect, the upcoming film starring Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin. Starting on American Idol, Hudson became a household name as a multi-talented star. Not only is she a professional singer, but she is also an established actor.

Hudson, a former coach on The Voice, is gearing up for her movie‘s upcoming Aug. 13, 2021 release date. The actor talked about how the Queen of Soul inspired her for the role. So, how did faith play its own role when Hudson got into character?

Jennifer Hudson posing at NBCUniversal Event
A portrait of Jennifer Hudson at the NBCUniversal Upfront Event | Maarten de Boer/NBC/NBC via Getty Images

Details about ‘Respect’

Back in 2020, Respect was scheduled for a limited release. Due to the pandemic, the biopic was postponed to 2021 with a wide theatrical release. Once the official trailer dropped on May 19, 2021, audiences got a full-scale glimpse at what the biopic will focus on.

Throughout the released clip, viewers see how Franklin begins writing her infamous song. Hudson sits at the piano with two other characters and asks them, “You really like it?” Viewers already know that the song led her to stardom and toward her title as the Queen of Soul.

The production emphasizes how Franklin overcame obstacles in the music industry and throughout her personal life. Her toxic, abusive marriage is revealed along with her participation in the historic civil rights movement.

Early screenings of the biographical flick were held on Aug. 8, 2021.

Hudson’s reason why faith was so important for the film

The American Idol alum described the significance of faith, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Hudson’s regard for church ultimately connected her to Franklin as the Queen of Soul cherished it herself.

“Faith is very important,” the singer commented. “It’s the base of her and myself. It’s the thing that helped me get through the film. And it’s the thing that felt most at home…When we were shooting that scene [with Aretha as a teenager], I felt like, ‘This is church.’ You can’t really script that. That was the most beautiful thing for me to maintain throughout the film: her faith. And the gospel in her music, no matter what genre she sang, no matter where she was in life, gospel was always the blueprint. And her faith was always present.”

Franklin started her career singing in a church choir and never lost touch with her roots in it. Hudson sang in her local church choir as well.

Hudson added that embracing Franklin’s character was a challenge; she had to disconnect herself from the songs she was already familiar with. “During filming, that’s what stayed with me: Am I supposed to sound like her, or do I use more of my voice?” Hudson recalled.

The actor explained that she worked with a dialect coach and said, “I’m singing it, but I’m using [Franklin’s] approach, her nuances and inflections, the place where she sings from…And then you have to consider the narrative, where we are along the timeline. For example, the song ‘Ain’t No Way.’ I, as Jennifer Hudson, know the song completely. I can sing it, and I know every lick. Whereas, in the context of the film, she’s learning the song, so now I have to unlearn the song and approach it as if I’m just now discovering it.”

Jennifer Hudson has starred in other film musicals

The R&B singer didn’t join the cast of Respect without experience. Hudson has starred in multiple movies and on Broadway in The Color Purple. However, Hollywood didn’t underestimate her well-known talent as a singer. She starred in Dreamgirls as the main character, Effie White. The movie is inspired by the original Motown female group, The Supremes, but the film labeled them as “The Dreamettes.”

Hudson has also starred in the poorly-received 2019 film, Cats. The musical became known for its CGI errors and is considered by many as one of the worst movies ever made. Widespread criticism quickly swirled through the media, but Hudson’s rendition of “Memory” was applauded.

Despite the failure of Cats, Hudson brought her ingrained talent and experience to Respect.

Related: ‘Respect’ Movie Review: Walk Hard Over Aretha Franklin’s Legacy