Jennifer Hudson to Play Aretha Franklin in Biopic: 'U Have No Idea How Humbled I Am'

Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic
 Jennifer Hudson and Aretha Franklin at The Jacobs Theater on Dec. 15, 2015 in New York City. 

Jennifer Hudson won a Oscar, Golden Globe and SAG award for best supporting actress her first starring role as Effie White in 2006's Dreamgirls. And while she's appeared in nearly a dozen films since, the former American Idol finalist appears to have lined up another potentially award-winning role for her next act.

According to E! News at his annual pre-Grammys party on Saturday night (Jan. 27) music legend Clive Davis confirmed that Hudson will be portraying the Queen of Soul in an upcoming Aretha Franklin biopic. The confirmation came after Hudson wowed the crowd at Davis' party with a medley of Franklin's hits, including "Respect," "Rock Steady" and "Think." While introducing his one-time protege, Davis, who also mentored Franklin, said JHud had been "anointed by Aretha herself."

Hudson confirmed the bombshell on Sunday night (Jan. 28), posting a pic from the red carpet at Davis' party with the caption, "And this guys... I don't even know what to say... look at God! #Arethafranklin u have no idea how humbled I am!"

According to E!, at the party, Davis called Hudson a "transcendent" performer, saying, "she stops any and every show she's in. Her voice is truly incredible. When they ask, 'Where's the next Aretha? Where will the next Aretha come from?' I say, 'It's her.'"

Rolling Stone added that Davis also said, "When the biopic of the great Aretha Franklin is filmed next year, the artist anointed by Aretha herself to play her is the next performer. Aretha personally told me that last week." Davis, who signed and worked with both women, also noted that Hudson is currently in the studio working on a new album that he hopes will be a "classic... she's in the tradition of Adele, she's a singer's singer."

It wouldn't be the first time Hudson has stepped into Franklin's formidable shoes. She sang Franklin tributes at the 2011 Grammy Awards and the 2014 BET Awards and in interviews Franklin has said that Hudson or singer Audra McDonald were her first choices for the film; at one point, Oscar-winner Halle Berry was Franklin's first choice, though the actress appeared to turn it down citing her lack of singing chops. Deadline reported that a Franklin biopic has been quietly percolating for a while at MGM with Scott Bernstein (Straight Outta Compton) on board to produce along with music producer Harvey Mason Jr., who worked with Hudson on Dreamgirls.

At press time no director or screenwriter were announced for the untitled project, which Franklin confirmed to Billboard back in April 2016. "Good news, we're ready to sign for the movie," Franklin said at the time. "We've agreed on all the key points. There's very little left now (to negotiate), very little. They have given me creative control and that's all I wanted."


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