The late Queen of Soul will be the focus of the anthology series’ upcoming third season, set for release in May. Erivo will star alongside Courtney B. Vance, who will portray Franklin’s father, and other cast members including Pauletta Washington, David Cross, Malcolm Barrett and Patrice Covington.
“Over the last few months, I’ve been preparing myself to embody the Queen of Soul, from re-listening to her music to discovering her rare interviews and reading some amazing books on her — all to really capture Aretha’s attitude and spirit,” Erivo said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter in December.
“Genius” centers on a different historical genius each season, having previously depicted Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso.
Erivo is up for two Academy Awards at the 2020 Oscars this Sunday, scoring nominations in the Best Actress and Original Song categories for “Harriet,” in which she portrayed the heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman.
The actor is the only Black actor — or actor of color — to be nominated in the acting categories at this year’s Oscars. Erivo called the lack of representation “saddening” in an interview with author Roxane Gay for The Hollywood Reporter last month.
If Erivo, a 33-year-old Tony, Grammy and Emmy winner, scores an Oscar on Sunday, she will become the youngest person ever to reach EGOT status — winning an award at each of the major award shows.
Jennifer Hudson is also set to portray Franklin, a transformative cultural icon who died in 2018 at age 76. She will star in the upcoming biopic “Respect,” slated to hit theaters later this year.
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