Audra McDonald, Heather Headley, and More Join Jennifer Hudson in Aretha Franklin Biopic

Film & TV News   Audra McDonald, Heather Headley, and More Join Jennifer Hudson in Aretha Franklin Biopic
Broadway alums Saycon Sengbloh, Tituss Burgess, and Hailey Kilgore are also among the newly announced cast of the Liesl Tommy-helmed project.
Audra McDonald and Heather Headley
Audra McDonald and Heather Headley

Broadway alums Audra McDonald, Heather Headley, Forest Whitaker, Saycon Sengbloh, and Hailey Kilgore are among those joining the previously announced Jennifer Hudson in the upcoming biopic centered on the life and career of Aretha Franklin. Eclipsed director Liesl Tommy will direct.

According to The Wrap, McDonald will star as Franklin's mother, with Sengbloh as her elder sister Erma, Kilgore as her sister Carolyn, Whitaker as Franklin's father, and Headley as gospel star Clara Ward.

Also newly announced are Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington, Marlon Wayans as Ted White, Marc Maron as Jerry Wexler, Tate Donavan, Tituss Burgess as Reverend Dr. James Cleveland, and Skye Dakota Turner as the young Aretha.

Straight Outta Compton’s Scott Bernstein and songwriter Harvey Mason Jr. will produce.

See What Your Favorite Stars Are Up to Away From Broadway With Playbill Universe

McDonald will be a special guest performer on Playbill Travel’s Broadway on the High Seas cruises. Cabins are now on sale for Broadway in the Great Northwest, Playbill Travel’s first domestic cruise featuring Kate Baldwin, Tedd Firth, Aaron Lazar, and Faith Prince (April 26–May 4, 2020), and for Broadway on the Mediterranean (August 31–September 7, 2020), featuring McDonald, Will Swenson, Gavin Creel, Caissie Levy and Lindsay Mendez, and for Broadway on the Nile (December 27, 2020–January 7, 2021), with performers soon to be announced. To book a suite or stateroom, call Playbill Travel at 866-455-6789 or visit

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