On Tuesday (Aug. 10), Hudson chatted with Apple Music 1's Zane Lowe about how Franklin knew Hudson was the right person for the job in portraying her. Before her 2020 BET Awards tribute to the queen, J. Hud performed a torrid run of "Rock Steady," "Think," "Respect," "Daydreaming," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" and "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)" at the 2014 awards show. While that felt like her "audition" for the role of Franklin, Hudson got the official call back from the artist herself during her 2015 Broadway run on The Color Purple, which earned her her second Grammy for best musical theater album.
"When I did the BET tribute to her, in my mind, I was like, 'This is my audition.' Although we've had conversations about it long before then, our first conversation was right after I won the Oscar for Dreamgirls," she recalled. "And then she called me during Color Purple and was like, 'It's you who I want to play me. Don't say a thing.' I feel as though I was one of the last people to speak to her before she passed. I didn't even realize just how sickly she had gotten. And I'm like, 'She called me. Wow.' And that call to me was her saying, 'I hope you're ready because it's time.'"