Jennifer Hudson on 'Pressure' of Aretha Franklin Handpicking Her for Biopic (Exclusive)

The 'Respect' star opens up to ET about playing the Queen of Soul.

Jennifer Hudson is gearing up for her turn as powerhouse Aretha Franklin in the upcoming biopic, Respect. The Oscar winner acknowledged there's a level of pressure living up to the Queen of Soul, who personally handpicked her to step into her shoes for the movie. 

"That's a lot, a lot, a lot of pressure!" Hudson told ET's Kevin Frazier on the red carpet at the 2021 BET Awards on Sunday. Respect, which charts Franklin's rise from her childhood days singing in her father's church choir to her road to becoming an international superstar, hits theaters later this summer after being pushed from its original Christmas Day release date in 2020.

"Everyone is counting down and I'm like, 'Please don't tell me! I don't want to know, that's enough pressure.' Enough with her being like, 'Jennifer do this.' But that's that women power, that's that empowerment, like if she passed the torch and she said, 'Jennifer you can do it,' that gives me the strength and the encouragement to try," she said.

Amy Sussman/FilmMagic

Hudson, who looked glam in head-to-toe Dolce & Gabbana, recently released a new original song from the upcoming movie, "Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)." 

"You should feel the church in it, the spirit, the soul," she said, acknowledging that she wanted to pay homage to Franklin's roots. "I wanted to make sure that was the base and the premise of everything because Aretha was the gospel... I'm so happy to hear that [it sounds like Aretha] because that was my sentiments exactly."

The BET Awards is celebrating Black women on Sunday, and Hudson was more than happy to praise her fellow sisters.

"I'm not going to perform but I'm going to be in the midst of the ladies and just here to celebrate each other and be here of our own accord," she said. "Women deserve those flowers because we do so much so I'm just happy to be one of them in the midst of all these beautiful ladies in our culture."

For Hudson, Sunday is a rare mama's night out. "Although I wanted to bring the babies but they had to go back home but we had a blast before the kids left," she said. "I've only got one kid, but I collect people's children. But yes, tonight is mother's night but we get to enjoy ourselves a little bit."

Aretha hits theaters Aug. 13. For more, watch below. And keep up with ET's BET Awards winner's list here. 


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