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NAMES

At screening on the Vineyard, ‘Respect’ star Jennifer Hudson and director Liesl Tommy discuss Aretha Franklin’s legacy

From left: Director Liesl Tommy, Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson, and actress and singer Jennifer Hudson at a screening of "Respect" on Martha's Vineyard on July 30.
From left: Director Liesl Tommy, Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson, and actress and singer Jennifer Hudson at a screening of "Respect" on Martha's Vineyard on July 30.Devin Smith

Grammy-winning singer Jennifer Hudson participated in a talk at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center on Friday for a screening of her new movie, “Respect.” Award-winning director Liesl Tommy, a graduate of Newton North High School, joined the actress as they discussed their film, which tells the life story of R&B legend Aretha Franklin. The screening was hosted by the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, which kicks off officially on Aug. 6 and runs through Aug. 14.

In a discussion led by author, Georgetown professor, and commentator Michael Eric Dyson following the film, Hudson said Franklin, who died in 2018, called her years ago when she was on Broadway performing in “The Color Purple,” and said she wanted Hudson to play her on screen at some point. Hudson added that the expectations of portraying an icon were big, but she hopes the film adds another dimension to Franklin’s legacy. “When you’re a legend, sometimes people forget you’re a human,” she said. “My goal with the film — I know we all have respect for Aretha — but by the end, I want everyone to have a new respect, starting with the human of it all.”

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“Respect” will be released in theaters Aug. 13.