When music and historical icon Aretha Franklin passed in August 2018, there was no question that the industry legend's incredible story needed to be told. National Geographic agreed with this sentiment, adding Franklin as the third instalment in their anthology series, titled Genius: Aretha. After several interruptions and back and forth production throughout the pandemic, the series has officially wrapped production, with sights set firmly on a 2021 debut.
National Geographic shared the news with their followers earlier today, posting an image of Harriet actress Cynthia Erivo, who is starring as Aretha, as well as as executive producer/showrunner Suzan-Lori Parks, and executive producer/director Anthony Hemingway. The eight-part series has been met with unprecedented challenges this year, having shutdown production on several occasions due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Originally slated for a May 25 premiere, the show's latest Instagram photo has confirmed that an early 2021 debut is looking likely.
View this post on Instagram
Similarly to the network's first two instalments of the Genius series, focusing on esteemed artist Picasso and mathematician Albert Einstein, Genius: Aretha will recount the life of the legendary Chain of Fools singer, from her roots as a child singing gospel in Detroit, to her crowning as the undisputed 'Queen of Soul.'
Watch the trailer for Genius: Aretha below.
According to National Geographic, Genius: Aretha is the first-ever, definitive and only authorised scripted limited series on the life of the Queen of Soul. However, it's not the only reimagining of the artist's unforgettable life.
Jennifer Hudson is also starring as Aretha in the highly-anticipated biopic, RESPECT, which has been slated for an August 2021 release. Hudson has already previously won an Academy Award for portraying the legendary soul singer, in the 2006 film Dreamgirls. According to the singer-actress, Franklin herself hand-selected her to portray her again, even before RESPECT was in inception.
“We met in New York, and one of the first things she said to me was ‘You’re gonna win another Oscar for playing me, right?’ Imagine Aretha Franklin looking you in the face and saying that,” shared Hudson.
While there's no offical release date for Genius: Aretha or RESPECT, keep an eye on this space for more details to come.