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Genius: Aretha Franklin showrunner ‘celebrates’ Jennifer Hudson and Cynthia Erivo playing icon at same time

Cynthia Erivo is taking on the role of legend Aretha Franklin in Genius: Aretha (Picture: National Geographic)

Jennifer Hudson and Cynthia Erivo are playing the late Aretha Franklin at the same time but, according to the Genius: Aretha showrunner, there’s no competition between them. 

Harriet actress Cynthia is set to play the queen of soul in National Geographic’s series Genius: Aretha, while Jennifer is taking on the role in the upcoming biopic Respect.

It’s a coincidence that both projects are being released around the same time but Genius’ executive producer Suzan-Lori Parks is happy to celebrate both performances.

Speaking to ahead of the premiere of her series, Suzan explained: ‘The great thing is that Aretha’s life is celebrated. She’s the Queen of Soul and if the world could have 100 projects about Aretha Franklin that wouldn’t be too many.

‘I think it’s wonderful that she’s being celebrated in so many different ways by so many talented artists right now.’

Showing her support for the Respect biopic, Suzan continued: ‘It’s being directed by Liesl Tommy who’s a dear friend of mine, more power to her but we didn’t discuss the direction we were going. I knew that theirs was a biopic and ours was a limited series so in just the length, I knew we were going to be covering different ground in different ways.

‘I just focused on the project that I had in front of me and I’m sure they did the same thing and focused on theirs.’

Cynthia did an ‘extraordinary job’ playing Aretha (Picture: National Geographic)

Jennifer Hudson will also play Aretha in Respect (Picture: MGM)

Last year, Jennifer sparked controversy with her response to Cynthia also playing the music legend.

She told Entertainment Weekly: ‘I know that Aretha was adamant that [her life] be a film. If it’s not a film, it’s nothing. I’m just honored that she picked me to play her.

‘I mean, who can say that? And again, I would have never done it without her wishes.’

The two stars have worked together before having co-starred in The Color Purple.

Cynthia delivers a stunning and nuanced performance as powerhouse vocalist Aretha, but there have been some comments online about her taking on the role as a Black British actress.

In recent years some African-Americans, including Samuel L Jackson, have questioned Black Brits landing prominent Hollywood roles particularly when it comes to playing real life Black American figures.

Suzan-Lori Parks explores Aretha’s ‘genius’ (Picture:

Genius: Aretha is released to Disney+ in the UK in June (Picture: National Geographic)

Suzan saw past Cynthia’s nationality and has no regrets about choosing her for the lead.

The filmmaker explained: ‘I was raised to know that soul is universal. That’s how I was brought up. I was brought up not to discriminate on somebody based on their country of origin.

‘When the company was considering actresses, we wanted someone who was amazingly talented who could sing and act, and Cynthia was that person.’

She continued: ‘There is a lot of conversation over what kind of person should be playing what kind of part and I think that’s valid, I think people’s concerns are valid.’

Praising the actress for her talents, Suzan added: ‘I think Cynthia’s the right person for the job. She’s done an extraordinary job. I’m very proud of our choice and very proud of the job that she’s done. How hard she worked to prepare herself for this role.

‘How much love and respect she has for Aretha Franklin so we’re very lucky to have done the job together.’


Credit: Source

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