It’s no small feat to play a cultural figure as towering and iconic as Aretha Franklin. But with Jennifer Hudson in their corner, “Respect” director Liesl Tommy and screenwriter Tracey Scott Wilson were in good hands. The film traces Franklin’s upbringing as a Detroit minister’s daughter profoundly impacted by familial tragedy, on through to an adulthood of ascendant stardom and the struggle to assert creative and personal agency.
Handpicked for the role 15 years ago by the Queen of Soul herself, there was little doubt that Hudson possessed the show-stopping pipes to grab Franklin’s mic. Her Oscar-winning turn in “Dreamgirls” showed that she could ably convey a spectrum of emotion and backstory through song. “Respect” stands as a testament to Hudson’s evolution as an artist. She thoroughly embodies both the larger-than-life performer onstage and the complicated human offstage, navigating through toxic relationships, family strife, and a contentious political awakening.
Hudson shares her experiences on the project in this intimate conversation with Academy Award winner and screen legend Viola Davis in the video above. Calling “Respect” the most personal project of her career, Hudson details the challenges of portraying a real-life figure who is universally known. She had to expand not only her acting range, but her musical abilities, too. To strip away the famous persona and find the real person underneath, Hudson tells Davis how she drew from both her own traumas and her conversations with Franklin, who encouraged her to “own her voice,” and it’s clear Hudson did just that. She commands “Respect.”
In their new drama The Unforgivable, the Oscar winners share a powerful scene together that touches on white privilege.
As star and producer of the new drama The Unforgivable, Sandra Bullock was an integral part of the film’s casting process and happily admits that she and her fellow producers chased after Viola Davis for a small but pivotal role in the film.
“When you ask someone of Viola’s stature to do something that could ostensibly feel like a cameo, it is because the only person who can do that and have that impact is Viola,” Bullock tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “And then you’re stuck with Viola in your head and you think ‘We will never get her.'”
But they did. In the film, directed by Nora Fingscheidt and based on the 2009 British miniseries Unforgiven, Bullock, 57, plays Ruth Slater, a convicted murderer released from prison after serving 20 years. Davis, 56, plays Liz Ingram, a woman now living in Ruth’s childhood home with her husband and two sons. Bullock and Davis’ big scene together is teased in the trailer, in which Liz confronts Ruth about her privilege, shouting “You are not a victim!”
Without giving anything away, the two Oscar-winning women, who first met and worked together on 2011’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, discussed the impact of working on and filming that particular scene in a collaborative way.
“I feel the catharsis in any scene is the truth of it,” says Davis. “The deeper you dive and the more honestly you dive, then the catharsis is that you left it all on the floor. And that was the beauty of this. But here’s the thing, this job came during the pandemic, during [protests over the killings of] George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, all of that had exploded. All of a sudden these conversations started to be had which weren’t taking place before. So this was a huge opportunity to bring my whole self to the role, my Black self, my female self, every part of me, to this role. And I believe that it benefited the material. That’s what all of those big things were about. And the beauty of it is, I will say it, is the bravery of Sandra, the bravery that she was not afraid of that because a lot of times Hollywood, they don’t want that aspect.”
Read the full article/interview in our press archive.
Take a look in the gallery for the first photos of Viola Davis as Michelle Obama in the upcoming tv-show “The First Lady”
You might know Viola Davis from one of her iconic films, or her impressive producing repertoire. One thing you might not know about the A list celeb is that she was diagnosed with prediabetes. In fact, roughly one third of American adults have prediabetes and might not even know it.
Prediabetes reflects an elevated blood sugar level that is still below the level of type 2 diabetes, but it can increase your diabetes risk by 50%. Instead of backing down, Davis decided to become an advocate for those with prediabetes and narrated the diabetes-focused documentary A Touch of Sugar. We caught up with Davis about her relationship to diabetes, her diagnosis and what she’s learned through her advocacy.
What is your family’s or your relationship to diabetes?
I’m one of many people who have a family history of diabetes. My two sisters have type 2 diabetes. My great-aunt had diabetes, and my paternal grandmother died from diabetes. I myself was diagnosed with prediabetes a year and a half ago. So it is very much in my genes. I know that my story is similar to a lot of people’s stories. And it’s one of the motivating factors behind me [speaking up].
When I was young, the story was you just got [diabetes]—you got “the suga’. ” And then once you got it, you just lived with it until you weren’t living anymore. There wasn’t any information [about managing diabetes], nobody practiced self-care. I was born in St. Matthew, South Carolina, so our staple foods were cornbread, the rice, the fried foods—fried chicken with all the flour on it. Eating cornstarch—that was a big thing in the South, you ate cornstarch right out of the box. And that’s just what we did. Now, with this generation, the narrative is different—but mixed with a little of the sameness. Because for me, I always say, “I got busy.” I got busy and stopped really paying attention [to my health].
Talk about the impact your diagnosis had on you.
When I was diagnosed with prediabetes, I woke up. It made me feel less invincible, which I actually think is a good thing. I already understood that I was predisposed, but I always thought I was going to be the family member that was different. I don’t eat a lot of sugar. If I eat sugar, I eat fruit. But I didn’t know that it’s way more complicated than that. So when I went in and my doctor did the A1C test, that’s when [I found out my blood sugar] was elevated. That reading was a slap in the face. I felt that I was already a tiny bit vigilant, but I became hyper vigilant, which is harder to do at 63.
Let’s talk about the documentary you narrated, A Touch of Sugar. What was the experience like for you?
There are so many personal testimonies in this documentary. I think that by the time the film ends, the best part is that [everyone interviewed has] hope. Hope that there are advocates out there helping them to manage and live with the disease. I wish so many of my family members understood that. That wasn’t even a part of the conversation back in the day. Nobody ever talked about food, nobody ever talked about weight, no one ever talked about exercise. Nobody ever talked about going to the doctor. They just talked about the suga’. But now there’s information out there. It’s not just this aloneness and silence that comes with the disease, someone just diagnosing you and giving you a pamphlet. Now there’s hope and resiliency.
What do you hope people learn from your story?
Once you speak up and share your story, and you let people know that they’re not alone, then [they] realize that there’s a life preserver out there for them. So, they know what to do if they are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. But they only know that if you open your mouth and offer support. When we’re actually bold enough to have a call to action and brave enough to share, that’s when change has come.
The gallery has been updated with HQ photos of Viola Davis at the HempHera Kosmetikos Pre-Emmy Luxury Lounge. Enjoy!
The gallery has been updated with over 100 HD screencaptures of Viola Davis in “Antwone Fisher”, enjoy!
The touching story of a sailor (Derek Luke) who, prone to violent outbursts, is sent to a naval psychiatrist (Denzel Washington) for help. Refusing at first to open up, the young man eventually breaks down and reveals a horrific childhood. Through the guidance of his new doctor, he confronts his painful past and begins a quest to find the family he never knew.
The gallery has been updated with over 100 HD screencaptures of Viola Davis in “The Pentagon Wars”, enjoy!
An Air Force colonel threatens to reveal the truth behind the military’s $14 billion investment in a transport vehicle.
Through Viola Davis’ social accounts I learned about her speech at the Loyola Marymount University Commencement Ceremony. Not many photos can be found but I found a few MQ ones.
Also through the Loyola Marymount University youtube account you can watch the whole ceremony and her speech at around 2:31:53.
The gallery has been updated with screencaptures of Viola Davis from all 4 tv movie Saga of Jesse Stone. Enjoy!
If there’s one woman in Hollywood who will always leave you with a good word and an inspirational story it’s Viola Davis. Whether sharing her experiences growing up poor in Rhode Island or the discrimination she’s faced as a Black woman in Hollywood, Davis has always been an open book and now she’s releasing her own.
Today, HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, announced acquisition of the Academy Award-winning actress’s memoir Finding Me. Set to be released April 19, 2022, the book will be published in partnership with Ebony Magazine Publishing.
Described as “a true hero’s journey,” the novel will span the 55-year-old’s life from her childhood in Central Falls to her present-day career as a philanthropist, Tony Award and Primetime Emmy Award-winning actress, and CEO/CoFounder of JuVee Productions. And it will tell her story of overcoming obstacles to now become the most nominated Black actress in the history of the Academy Awards.
“I’m an artist because there’s no separation from me and every human being that has passed through the world,” Davis writes in the book. “I have a great deal of compassion for other people, but mostly for myself.”