Liesl to Direct Movie Based on Life of Aretha Franklin

It was announced that Cape Town born, Liesl Tommy, will be directing ‘Respect’, a movie based on the life of music icon, Aretha Franklin. The announcement was made on Thursday in Los Angeles by the President of the global movie studio, Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures.

‘Respect’ is the story of Aretha’s struggle from being child prodigy in Detroit to becoming one of the greatest musical icons of all time. Born during a time of racial segregation and the African American civil rights uprisings, Aretha went on to sell over 110 million records, winning 18 Grammy Awards, and becoming one of the most honored artists in Grammy Award history. She also became a civil rights and women’s movements icon when she transformed Otis Redding’s “Respect”, into a feminist anthem.

The role of Aretha will be played by Oscar, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA and Grammy Award winner, Jennifer Hudson. The screenplay will be written by Oscar winner, Callie Khouri, and produced by ‘Straight Outta Compton’s’ Scott Bernstein and ‘Pitch Perfect’s’ Harvey Mason, Jr.

Of the movie, Liesl says that for a filmmaker, “there is no greater gift than to be able to bring this transcendent chronicle of a woman’s fight for self-realization to visual life”.




Born in Factreton, Cape Town, Liesl is best known for her critically acclaimed theatre productions. Her most critically acclaimed play, Eclipsed, garnered six Tony Award nominations, including Best Director. Her diverse portfolio includes developing and directing ‘Frozen Live’, a live theatre adaption of Disney’s Box Office hit, Frozen. She has also directed episodes of AMC’s Walking Dead, HBO’s Insecure and Oprah Winfrey’s Queen Sugar created by Oscar winner, Ava DuVernay. Earlier this year it was reported that she is also set to direct the movie adaptation of Trevor Noah’s autobiography, ‘Born a Crime’.

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