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Jennifer Hudson Reveals Why She Feels So Connected to Aretha Franklin

Jennifer Hudson on Aretha Franklin

Photo Credit: Eric Charbonneau/Shutterstock

Jennifer Hudson is opening up about her special connection to Aretha Franklin, who she plays in the upcoming biopic Respect.

The American Idol star rose to prominence in the early aughts on the reality TV show where she auditioned with one of Franklin's songs, "Share Your Love With Me." Since then, she's released several albums and starred in films such as Sex and the City, The Secret Life of Bees, and, of course, Dreamgirls, which won her an Academy Award for best supporting actress.

In the wake of that win, the Queen of Soul apparently handpicked Hudson to play her in the film prior to her death in 2018 at age 76.

Hudson told CNN that she felt she was chosen for the role because of something "beyond singing and acting."

"I think she saw something in me...I would not have been able to go as deep as I did to tell the story in an honest way without my own life experiences. So, I think she saw that in me, as well as everything else as far as being an actress and a singer," she shared with the outlet.

The film, which is out in theaters now, takes its name from one of Franklin's most iconic songs and follows the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "career from a child singing in her father's church's choir to her international superstardom" and reveals the "remarkable true story of the music icon's journey to find her voice," as per IMDB.

Hudson as Franklin sings all of the songs in the film and stars opposite Marlon Wayans, who plays Franklin's allegedly abusive husband Ted White. White and Franklin had been married from 1961 to 1969, having met after White became Franklin's manager. In addition to being her manager and first husband, White also co-wrote some songs for Franklin, including "I Wonder (Where You Are Tonight)", "Lee Cross," "Dr. Feelgood," and "Think."

Respect also stars Mary J. Blige, Audra McDonald, Forest Whitaker, Queen Latifah, and many more.

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