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Aretha Franklin’s life story is finally headed to the big screen in the long-awaited film, Respect. 

Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson leads a star-studded cast in the title role, with Marlon Wayans, Mary J. Blige, Forest Whitaker being just a few names attached to the soulful biopic.

As Respect gears up for its August 13 release date, members of the cast sat down for a conversation about the importance of the film, and to explain exactly what kept Aretha going, despite the ups and downs of her very public life.

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“There’s so many layers to Aretha Franklin,” Hudson said in the newly released cast featurette for Respect. “She’s an artist, she’s a woman – she’s an icon. But the biggest impact on her, were the people in her life.”

Liesl Tommy, the film’s director, echoed Hudson’s sentiment, noting that Aretha’s tale is one of a woman who learned to faithfully balance fame and family.

“When you’re a star there’s a certain expectation of excellence and so a big part of Aretha’s journey in the film is how she negotiates professional and personal relationships with people with people that she loves.”

Marlon Wayans appears in the films as Ted White: Businessman, songwriter, producer – in addition to Franklin’s first husband.

Largely known for his comedic turns on film and television, Wayans identified with the courage it takes to share your uncompromising true self with the world.

“Trying to find your individuality is the hardest thing in the world to do.” He said “It’s a special movie about a special woman, and I just feel so blessed to be a part of this.”

See Respect when it arrives in theaters August 13.

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Jennifer Hudson Says Aretha Franklin Valued Family, Independence & ‘Respect’ In New Biopic Cast Reel  was originally published on

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