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Jennifer Hudson, Aretha Franklin’s Chosen: A Story of Shared Tragedies and Love of Music

Jennifer Hudson He is one of those people who can proudly claim that they were made from below. After breaking into the atmosphere of the show in the 2004 edition of the musical reality show American Idol (she was a finalist, but did not win), this woman who, who will turn 40 on September 12, did not stop her rise. And now we will see her playing none other than Aretha Franklin the biopic Respect.

It was Aretha herself who chose her to embody her. He considered her a natural candidate for two fundamental reasons: in addition to a sensational voice, they both shared personal tragedies.

It is that the Queen of Soul, who died in 2018, had a difficult life. Her childhood was shaken by the death of her mother when she was nine years old, and she became pregnant with a schoolmate just three years later. He also had to fight a controlling father, a violent husband and his addiction to alcohol.

Jennifer Hudson, pointed out by the index of the great Aretha Franklin. AP Photo

Jennifer’s tragedy

For his part, Hudson had to live the tragedy very closely. It was in 2008, when his career was booming. At that moment, his brother-in-law murdered his mother, a brother and a nephew, in a case that shocked the United States and the entire world.

Hudson had always had his reservations about William Balfour. “We did not like the way he treated my sister, and I did not like the way he treated my nephew,” the actress went on to affirm in front of a court in Chicago, during the trial for these crimes, in 2012 and in the midst of tears.

Balfour was the husband of his sister, Julia, who in turn had a son, Julian, from a previous relationship. Violence was commonplace in the relationship, to the point that Julia, after kicking him out of the house they shared in February 2008, asked for a divorce.

Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in "Respect."  Photo EFE

Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in “Respect.” Photo EFE

How was the thing

On August 23 of that year, the man showed up at the home with the intention of greeting Julia on her birthday. As the investigation later revealed, Balfour saw a gift there that he thought had been given to him by another man.

Sick with jealousy, this psychopath planned his revenge. A day later, on August 24, he returned to his ex-wife’s house in the morning, shortly after Julia had left for work. And he did it armed.

Inside were Darnell Donerson, Hudson’s mother (57), Jason Hudson (one of his brothers, 29), and little Julian (just 7). He murdered the first two in cold blood, while he decided to kidnap the minor, whom he took in his truck.

Desperation took hold of the actress and the rest of her family, who quickly communicated that they were offering a reward of one hundred thousand dollars for any information that led them to find the boy.

William Balfour murdered three members of Jennifer Hudson's family.  Photo: AP

William Balfour murdered three members of Jennifer Hudson’s family. Photo: AP

However, the effort would be in vain: three days later, several kilometers away from the first crimes, police found Julian’s lifeless body wrapped in a shower curtain, inside Balfour’s truck.

The trial, which began years later and lasted two weeks, had an exemplary conviction: Balfour was found guilty of three counts of murder in the first degree and sentenced to three life sentences without the possibility of parole to serve consecutively, followed by another 120 years for his other sentences.

The murderer, in this way, returned to prison: he had previously been behind bars for seven years, for attempted murder and theft of a vehicle.

How she played Aretha

Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin, a soul diva who set the genre on fire.

Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin, a soul diva who set the genre on fire.

Now, the actress and singer put that ordeal into play to bring Aretha back to life. “I needed to be in a specific place and to have been through what I went through in my life to be able to interpret it,” he said during a press screening in Los Angeles, before the film’s premiere, that It will be this Friday, August 13 in the United States.

“At least that’s how I feel right now,” added the actress, who hadn’t faced her personal tragedy when she first met Franklin to discuss the fledgling project. That happened fifteen years ago.

After that first meeting, It took Franklin eight years to call Hudson to give him the role. In the meantime, he had considered, and ruled out, other actresses, like Halle Berry.

Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington in "Respect."  Photo EFE

Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington in “Respect.” Photo EFE

“Interpret the Lady of Soul it’s not something you get used to. I was taking it little by little, “said Hudson, who does not hide his admiration for the singer and who, like Franklin, began singing in gospel choirs and relied on his faith to overcome the tragedy.

Unlike what happens with other biographical musicals, Hudson sang and recorded Franklin’s greatest hits live, such as I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You), (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman and, of course, Respect.

What’s more, learned to play piano for the role, which required her to make 83 costume changes and wear eleven different wigs, including one that mimics Franklin’s signature beehive look.

While Respect, which is young director Liesl Tommy’s debut feature, received moderate reviews, Hudson’s performance was highly praised. Thus, it is likely that soon it will add prizes to its crowded showcase.

An upward race

Marc Maron as Jerry Wexler, Marlon Wayans as Ted White, and Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin on Respect.  Photo EFE

Marc Maron as Jerry Wexler, Marlon Wayans as Ted White, and Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin on Respect. Photo EFE

Remember that Hudson already won a Golden Globe and an Oscar Best Supporting Actress for her role in Dreamgirls (2006), in which it was his film debut. In addition, he participated in the soundtrack of more than 50 Hollywood productions and acted in films such as Sex and the City (2008), Taste of Honey (2008) and Winnie Mandela (2013).

As a singer, Hudson won a Grammy Award for his debut album, Jennifer Hudson, released in 2008. From that album came the hit single Spotlight, which had sales of more than one million copies worldwide. His second album, I Remember Me, was published in 2011. The greatest success is Where You At.

In addition, Hudson did shows at the Super Bowl and at the Grammys, already has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and, color fact, is a close friend of Barack Obama.

Jennifer Hudson shares a story of grief with Aretha, which helped her get into the role.  AP Photo

Jennifer Hudson shares a story of grief with Aretha, which helped her get into the role. AP Photo

Over two hours and 25 minutes, the film especially portrays two decades of Franklin’s life, both in its artistic and personal aspects.

In addition, it addresses your involvement in the civil rights movement. Aretha was the daughter of an influential Baptist church pastor (played by Forest Whitaker), who had among her close friends Martin Luther King Jr.

“You have to think,” Hudson reflected, “how much pain she went through: you had to be in her shoes in times like those, being a black woman and close to people like Dr. King. And having to go out and cheer up everyone.” .. often people forget that icons and legends are human beings too and they have a life. “

With information from AFP.

E.S.

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