Respect, the Aretha Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson, has found a director.
Liesl Tommy, who earned a Tony Award nomination for directing the play Eclipsed from actress Danai Gurira, will helm the feature film for Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures.
Tommy’s other directing credits include The Walking Dead, Insecure and Queen Sugar.
“The story of Aretha Franklin’s journey from child prodigy in Detroit to international supernova is rife with struggle and triumph, making her life one of the great American stories of all time,” Tommy said in a statement to the media. “As a filmmaker there is no greater gift than to be able to bring this transcendent chronicle of a woman’s fight for self-realization to visual life with the enormous talents of the soulful Jennifer Hudson, Callie Khouri, and our incredible producers.”
Oscar-winning Thelma & Louise screenwriter and Nashville creator, Callie Khouri, has signed on to write the script.
Straight Outta Compton producer Scott Bernstein and music producer Harvey Mason Jr., who has written and produced songs for Franklin and Hudson, will produce the film.
Ms. Aretha was my first musical obsession. She is everything. Thank God I have the team to do right by her. ?????? @IAMJHUD @CallieKhouri @HarveyMasonjr @MGM_Studios #scottbernstein https://t.co/EcBqTcESqs
— Liesl (@LieslTommy) January 10, 2019
Hudson was handpicked by Franklin to play her, and the starring role was announced last year.
The singer and actress, who won an Oscar for her role in the 2006 film Dreamgirls, said she is honored to take part in Respect.
“It is an absolute honor to be a part of bringing Ms. Franklin’s story to audiences who adore her around the world,” Hudson said in a statement. “I could not be more excited to be working alongside Liesl Tommy, a brilliant and thoughtful director, who is no doubt the perfect choice to lead the film.”
Franklin died in August at age 76. The film will follow her life from singing in her father’s church, to becoming one of the most iconic figures in the music industry.
Hudson sang Amazing Grace at Franklin’s Detroit funeral and brought mourners to tears.