South African Director Liesl Tommy, Tapped to Direct Aretha Franklin Biopic, ‘Respect’

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Liesl Tommy to direct Aretha Franklin Biopic

Metro Goldwyn Layers Pictures(MGM Pictures) has enlisted South African Director, Liesl Tommy to direct its Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect. The film will follow the life of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who will be portrayed by Jennifer Hudson as personally handpicked by the singer before her passing in August 2018.

Known for her racially diverse casting, Liesl Tommy is a 6 time Tony Award nominee. For her work on the critically acclaimed Broadway play Eclipsed written by Danai Gurira and starring Lupita Nyong’o, she made history as the first black woman to earn a Tony award nomination for Best Direction of a Play. Her directorial prowess has also been tapped for episodes of Walking Dead, Insecure and Queen Sugar.

The screenplay for the film will be handled by Creator of Nashville Callie Khouri. Scott Berntein, producer of Straight Outta Compton and Harvey Mason Jr, producer and songwriter for both Franklin and Hudson, will be the producers of the film.

Liesl Tommy tells Variety “The story of Aretha Franklin’s journey from child prodigy in Detroit to international supernova is rife with struggle and triumph, making her life one of the great American stories of all time,” Tommy said. “As a filmmaker there is no greater gift than to be able to bring this transcendent chronicle of a woman’s fight for self-realization to visual life with the enormous talents of the soulful Jennifer Hudson, Callie Khouri, and our incredible producers.”