RESPECT Writer Tracey Scott Wilson worked hard to portray the reality of Aretha Franklin’s life

Jesus Figueroa
(RC Jennifer Hudson stars as Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington 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

Biography films like “Respect,” the story of Aretha Franklin, can sometimes be overly glorifying, but writer Tracey Scott Wilson wanted to ensure that the film gave light to the actual story of the Queen of Soul.
“To me it was the only way to tell the story because that’s the only way it’s interesting,” Wilson said. “Otherwise, you are sort of doing a Wikipedia page, right? If you don’t venture into telling the good with the bad and actually show what made the person, then, you might as we’ll be watching an episode of behind the music or something. It’s really important to show all. It’s what Aretha (Franklin) wanted.”
For Wilson, she did not have Aretha Franklin to verify events or run things by to be more authentic, making this story truthful came from research.

Aretha Franklin’s family and friends helped with details that could not have been acquired through the many interviews, documentaries, and biographies used for researching.
“I wish I would have met Aretha (Franklin). I did not have that honor to meet Ms. Franklin,” Wilson said. “Jennifer (Hudson) did. She knew her for awhile. Alot of my insights of Aretha (Franklin) came from watching the many, many interviews that she gave, but also talking to Jennifer (Hudson), and also talking to (Franklin’s) family.”
It can be more difficult to find someone who has not heard the music of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin than to find that in one way or another people have been aware of her music.

For many, Franklin’s music was so common to hear. 
“My parents, my siblings, my grandmother, everybody in my family listened to Aretha (Franklin). It was like water in the house,” Wilson said. “I have gotten this question a couple of times. I can’t remember a time I didn’t hear her music.”
With such a fan base, telling the story of Aretha Franklin had to be honest and show a real version of Aretha Franklin that the audience could connect with.

“Respect” became a movie that showed a complex version of Aretha Franklin and not just a perfect rise to fame.

Through the movie there are flaws show as we’ll as triumph.
“Liesl Tommy, part of her pitch before she got the job, she said she wanted to answer the question about how the woman with the greatest voice of all time found her own voice,” Wilson said. “She set the parameters of age 10 to age 30. It made perfect sense because it was the beginning and then entered the highlight of her career.”
“Respect” not only pays homage to Aretha Franklin, but those so in what feels like an authentic telling of a life that was not always easy.

Instead of showing just the success which Aretha Franklin did have, “Respect” delves into obstacles and rough patches which help being even more meaning to the success of the Queen of Soul.

While it’s always enjoyable to see people succeed, it is more powerful to represent Aretha Franklin as human as she was.
“I think everyone was really aware of how important it was to tell the story,” Wilson said. “Unfortunately (Aretha Franklin) had passed away by the time we got to filming (‘Respect’), but we knew we had this one opportunity to really get it right.”
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