Jennifer Hudson talks about her role as Aretha Franklin in 'Respect'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Aretha Franklin was already grooming Jennifer Hudson to play her on the big screen well before her death three years ago.

"Respect" finally opens in theaters Thursday night. Hosea Sanders talked to Chicago's own Dreamgirl about a role that could give her a chance for a second Oscar!

HUDSON: Think of what she represents herself, and I'm a fan so I understand just what that means, and it's like we're singing the songs, these are classics. You don't want to touch that, right?

SANDERS: What is it about growing up here in Chicago that has really kept you grounded?

HUDSON: I always say I like to come back to Chicago because it allows my feet to touch the ground. The realness of the people and it's home so I don't forget where I come from - and it's very fresh in my mind, so it keeps me, I think sane, balanced. I live in Chicago, so during the pandemic I worked with a lot of her musicians, and I was like, Aretha loved everything from Chicago, even down to me playing her!

SANDERS: You've had some really tough times in your life yourself, were you able to tap into that in going to these places with Miss Franklin?

HUDSON: I don't think I would have been able to tell this with so much depth and from such an honest place without my own life experiences.

SANDERS: How do you feel about the whole experience and your portrayal?

HUDSON: While you're in it, I remember being on set and they were like, you don't seem nervous and I was like, 'Honey, I'm focused right now,' It's like Dreamgirls, oh my God, that's Beyonce, that's Eddie, different ones and I was like, hold on I gotta focus because I have a job to do.

SANDERS: There's a lot of Oscar buzz, I remember Miss Franklin said you both were gonna come out winners on this one.

HUDSON: That was the very first thing she said to me when we had our meeting. She said, 'You're gonna win an Oscar for playing me, right?' And I was like, I couldn't say much, I don't know. Just playing her is like, what more can you ask for?

SANDERS: We consider you our Chicago Dreamgirl. Did you ever dream it would be like this?

HUDSON: I always say, God gives you more than what you asked for, I didn't dream this big, but I guess I couldn't see all of this, you know.
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