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Jennifer Hudson remembers she felt intimidated by the role of Aretha Franklin in ‘Respect’

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Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

As the day Oscar nominations are announced on February 8 approaches, many film observers believe Jennifer Hudson will receive a nod for her starring role in the 2021 Aretha Franklin biopic Respect.

Hudson won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Dreamgirls in 2007, but if she’s nominated for Respect, it will be for Best Actress. The late Queen of Soul personally selected Hudson for the role; however, Jennifer says she had second thoughts about playing her idol “every day.”

“As an actor, you read a script; but when you start seriously working on it, you think, ‘What did I get myself into?'” the 40-year-old singer/actress explains to Variety. “You’re discovering all that’s required. It’s Aretha Franklin! You can’t duplicate that. So I became like a medium, trying to capture her approach, her vocal nuances.”

The Grammy, Emmy and Oscar winner admits that she was worried about singing Aretha’s classic songs.

“All the music made me nervous,” Hudson notes. “I’m a fan of hers so I know what she means to the music industry and the effect she’s had on people worldwide. That adds pressure.” 

Jennifer continues, “At first I thought, ‘I get to sing “Respect”! But I always remembered that songs like that represent something important to people.”

Respect covers Aretha’s life from 1952 to 1972. Hudson says it was a challenge to go back to that era when females commonly were considered inferior to men.

“It took a lot to understand the times,” the “Spotlight” singer reflects. “Women were not able to have a voice, not able to take up space, compared to the times I was raised in.

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