By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
Academy Award-winning actor and Palisades Charter High School graduate Forest Whitaker has a starring role in the upcoming film, “Respect,” which tells the life story of R&B singer Aretha Franklin.
“Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, ‘Respect’ is the remarkable true story of Franklin’s journey to find her voice,” according to a synopsis provided on the United Artists Releasing website.
Whitaker takes on the role of C. L. Franklin, an American Baptist minister and civil rights activist who was the father of Aretha. Other starring roles in the film include Jennifer Hudson as Aretha, Marlon Wayans as Ted White, Audra McDonald as Barbara Siggers Franklin, Marc Maron as Jerry Wexler, Tituss Burgess as James Cleveland, Saycon Sengblog as Erma Franklin, Hailey Kilgore as Carolyn Franklin, Tate Donovan as John Hammond and Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington.
The biographical musical drama film marks the feature film directorial debut of Liesl Tommy, with a screenplay written by Tracey Scott Wilson. The film is produced by Scott Bernstein and Harvey Mason Jr.
It is reported that Aretha herself was involved with the development of the film, which has been long in development, until her death on August 16, 2018. In January 2019, it was revealed that Tommy was set to direct, with the rest of the cast, including Whitaker, added in October 2019.
While Whitaker was a student at Pali High, he played on the football team and sang in the choir. He graduated with the class of 1979, then went on to attend California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, on a football scholarship where a back injury prompted him to change his major to music (singing).
After its original limited release in December 2020 was delayed, “Respect,” which has a rating of PG-13, is slated to be released in theaters on August 13 in the U.S. by United Artists Releasing, with a worldwide release by Universal Pictures. It is also slated to screen at the 74th Locarno Film Festival, which takes place between August 4 and 14.
The soundtrack, which will feature one original song performed by Hudson that was released on June 18, will debut via Epic Records on the same day as the film.
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