Saturday, August 18, 2012

Jordin Sparks Plays The Lead In 'Sparkle'

In 1976, the movie Sparkle became an anthem for little African American girls who had a dream for stardom. 

The movie was about three sisters seeking fame as a singing group.  Their dreams hit a hiccup when the oldest sister, who is nicknamed Sister, becomes involved in drugs.

It starred Irene Cara as the title character, Lonette McKee, Mary Alice, Philip Michael Thomas, Dwan Smith and Dorian Harewood.

It became a kind of cult classic and still remains a favorite among African Americans. 

(l-r) Lonette McKee, Irene Cara and Dwan Smith
Fast forward to 2012 and the remake of Sparkle (TriStar) is set to be released Aug. 17.  It features the last acting performance of Whitney Houston, who died Feb. 11, 2012.

The film, directed by Salim Akil with a screenplay by Mara Brock Akil, stars Jordin Sparks, Whitney Houston, Derek Luke, Mike Epps, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick, Ceelo Green, Curtis Armstrong, Terrence J, Tamela Mann and Michael Beach.  The film is produced by Debra Martin Chase, T.D. Jakes, Curtis Wallace, Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil.

I caught up with Jordin Sparks to discuss the remake of Sparkle.

DD: Jordin (Sparks), why did you want to be involved in this film?  Did you see the original?

JS: I saw the original Sparkle in February 2011. I heard something about it being made into a movie. It piqued my interest. I really enjoyed it. I had no idea something like this even existed.

DD: Can you identify with the film?

JS: Sparkle was a nickname of mine since I was little. I read the script and know I wanted to do it. I was emotional, happy and sad.  I had no experience auditioning. They called me and I said I got the role. I screamed. I was on a rooftop on top of a hotel. I was beside myself. I was so excited.

DD: We you sure you could do the role?

JS: When I got the part I was in disbelief. The fact that they believed in me was big. I kept thinking, I don’t know if I can. They believed in me. I can’t walk in here and be horrible. Hopefully, whatever I do is along the lines of what they wanted. I took it a day at a time. Huge learning experience.

DD: This film is based in the 60s, long before you were born.

JS: Growing up, I have a hug love for the 60s.  It was the Temps, the Supremes, Ella Fitzgerald. I grew up listening to that music. We shot it in Detroit. It was a little desolate. I remember driving in the city and getting the feeling , the buzz of what it was like back them. 

Houston plays Sparks' mother in the film

DD: What was it like working with Whitney Houston?

JS:  She was really cool. When you idolize someone you hear horror stories. It wasn’t like that. I was everything I dreamed of and more. She was flying back and forth to be with Bobby Kristina. She was very motherly, nurturing. We all bonded. She was the executive producer, actress and mother at the same time.

DD: Did she seem happy?

JS: She was excited to do this film. Now she’s not here, it’s bitter sweet. She was amazing. When I talk about her, it’s like she’s still here.

DD: Most memorable moment with her?

JS:  We’re all waiting around. She played gospel music all the time. I was playing some rap – Teach Me How To Dougie.  We all started doing it.

DD: Favorite scene with her?

JS:  Just being able to work opposite her. I had to tell myself ‘Jordin, keep cool.’  I didn’t change for two months.

DD: She had a line in the movie that is kind of eerie now.

JS:  Yeah, when she says, ‘wasn’t my life enough of a cautionary tale.’ It’s like she’s explaining things for you.  I can’t believe she’s gone. This is the last thing she left. It’s bitter for sure.

DD: Have you seen the original movie?

JS: I didn’t want to do the same thing, but I wanted to show some respect. There’s a lot of me in Sparkle. I had a hard time watching me. I can’t even watch my stuff on YouTube – well, can’t for about six months. I kept thinking, ‘oh, my gosh, what am I doing?’

DD: Do you want to do more acting?

JS: Yes.  And, 20 years from now when I talk about my first movie, I can say I was in Sparkle.

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