Actress Saycon Sengbloh finds a grand story in her role of Erma Franklin in RESPECT

Jesus Figueroa

(Hailey Kilgore, left, stars as Carolyn Franklin, Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin and Saycon Sengbloh as Erma Franklin 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

In “Respect,” the story of the Queen of Soul includes many aspects that build up to the triumphant career of Aretha Franklin, but actress Saycon Sengbloh discovered a grand story in portraying Erma Franklin.
“Because Erma has her own huge story that should be told on its own one day, I just wanted to be sure to play Erma respectful and also complimentary to the story that was being told by Liesl Tommy our wonderful director,” Sengbloh said. “I just wanted to be sure I stayed true to the form of what they desired the outcome to be and my prayer was that the family would be proud as well.”
The project was special for Sengbloh because she was able to pay homage to the Queen on Soul Aretha Franklin and even before being cast as a part of “Respect,” she was hoping to be a part of it.

Actors do not always get to be part of a project that has the opportunity to be historic.
“As an actress you look for those opportunities to be a part of important, special projects,” Sengbloh said. “There’s so much programming, TV, and movies and and everything isn’t historic or history making or special, as soon as I heard that it was happening I was praying that I would be a part of it.”
From what was known about the rise to stardom of Aretha Franklin, there was still much more to tell and the script was written in a way that it covered the complexity of life.

While not much was known about Aretha Franklin’s up bringing, the story of her stardom was chronicled in interviews and stories.
“Tracey Scott Wilson, the writer, She put so much and so many juicy tidbits in there that anytime you come across one in the script you could go and research,” Sengbloh said. “There are so many books that are based on Aretha Franklin’s lifeand there is documentaries and then visually I just liked to go online and pull up images and see what people looked like, what people wore, and watch footage of the way people danced.”
The music of Aretha Franklin was prominent in the households of many throughout the years.

Sengbloh was more than familiar with the music and had at times sang Aretha Franklin songs at auditions.

Franklin was the aspiration for many artists.
“I sang her music at many auditions. I sang ‘Ain’t No Way’ at auditions,” Sengbloh said. “All of my favorite singers would all say that Aretha Franklin was the prototype, the standard to emulate or sound like.”
“Respect” tells a strong story that feels like a look into the struggles and obstacles which of the Queen of Soul.

While the story is not all success, the success could not be appreciated without the turbulence.
“I want people to walk away knowing the level of class and fineness she brought to the industry,” Sengbloh said. “I think Jennifer Hudson did a wonderful job portraying Aretha Franklin. We all had such a great time on set. I want people walk away feeling that vibe and feeling like they were right there with us.”
Through the project Sengbloh learned many things about herself. She had the opportunity to learn through researching her role and the life of Aretha Franklin.

While there is only so much one can learn from examples, it was important to take in as much as possible from the story of Aretha Franklin.
“I learned that I need a certain amount of solitude every week. When you are really busy and you are singing, dancing, and acting, you have to have wiggle room. You can’t just have back-to-back rehearsals, you have time for hanging out and doing different things,” Sengbloh said. “You have to have that wiggle room for things to grow and marinate. I feel the best way for me to learn my lines is to have that time for things to marinate. I learned alot of how to be the best entertainer and do the best at work.”
Aside from the research, Sengbloh was able to learn from her co-star and take away a lesson in stardom which she could take onto her series “The Wonder Years.”
“I learned up close what it’s like to be a superstar watching Jennifer Hudson. It was very helpful to see that,” Sengbloh said. “Now I’m managing my new television show ‘The Wonder Years,’ and seeing how much work it takes for me to do this and be so essential to the show. I learned alot by watching Jennifer Hudson and I’m so proud of her.”

Available on Digital, Blu-Ray, and DVD Now
TWITTER: @RespectMovie

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