12-year-old breakout star Skye Dakota Turner shines as Young Aretha Franklin in RESPECT

Jesus Figueroa
(Skye Dakota Turner stars as Young Aretha Franklin and Audra McDonald as her mother Barbara in RESPECT A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. Photo credit: Quantrell D. Colbert © 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Written by Jesus Figueroa

Twelve year old actress Skye Dakota Turner had never worked on a movie set when she got the role of Young Aretha Franklin in “Respect.”

Turner had experience on stage, but being in a major film was a bit of a change for her.
“Since this was my movie debut, I was really nervous about my expressions and things that were captured in screen. I was really trying to put an emphasis on my expressions because I’m so use to theater,” Turner said. “Film was such a big change.”
At first Turner said it was a shock to have gotten the part.

While it was a dream to get the role, it was also not something Turner expected.
“I thought it was a dream to be honest,” Turner said. “It was like, why are you telling me something that’s not true, I didn’t get that role, I’m not young Aretha Franklin.”
While her expressions and acting made Turner nervous, singing was something that did not bring any worry.

Although this was Turner’s first film, she had experience singing, even if it was not for such a big audience.
“Singing is something that I’ve always done. I never felt nervous singing,” Turner said. “So it just kind of comes out, I don’t really have to think about it. I did, however, need to get use to learning how to scat. That was very fun though.”
Turner did not get nervous singing and her performances in the “Respect” showcase her vocal talents.

It was not for the lack of knowing the Queen of Soul’s music, but rather because there is little known of Aretha Franklin’s youth.

Trying to find ways to prepare was a task for Turner, but she found what she needed.
“I had already known about Aretha Franklin since I grew up in a house with old school music and my parents had always played her music around the house, on road-trips, and in the car. So I kind of just always knew about her,” Turner said. “But, when I read the script, I found out there was so much I didn’t know about her as well. I would go and I would go online and look up alot of things about her and make sure I knew the real truth about who she was. I kind of tried to dig deeper about her childhood. There’s alot on her adulthood, but not much on her childhood. It was alittle harder than looking for the Queen of soul than looking for Riri, but I am glad that I took the time to do that.”
While her personal research and preparation worked for getting into character, Turner also wanted to do the best acting job she possibly could.

Turner said she had an acting coach who she worked with to make sure her performance matched that of her talented co-stars.

Turner worked with veteran actor Forest Whitaker, whom she said was intimidating at first, but would turn out to be a sweet person to work with.
“Honestly, I was super nervous going in because this is Forest Whitaker, I’ve seen him in so many things, all these intense roles, all his accomplishments, and everything that he’s done,” Turner said. “I did actually think he’s this intense person and serious, but really he was so kind to me. I remember he bought me a record player because he saw me looking at a record player on set.”
Turner has her first major motion picture under her belt and co-stars such as Forest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson to learn from.

Through this experience, Turner said she did have a major take away from the story of Aretha Franklin.
“One thing I learned about Aretha Franklin, throughout making this movie, is that everyone goes through challenges and I am really grateful that her story ended the way it did and how triumphant she was, and, honestly, representing as a black woman,” Turner said.
Available on Digital, Blu-Ray, and DVD Now
TWITTER: @RespectMovie

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