Aretha Franklin film finds its director

US soul singer Aretha Franklin, December 2015, at the 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, DC. (AFP Relaxnews pic)

LOS ANGELES: South African by birth and American by nationality, Liesl Tommy will direct Jennifer Hudson in a film about the life and work of soul singer Aretha Franklin.

Jennifer Hudson was selected by Franklin herself to play the lead role, and Tommy will be working from a script provided by Callie Khouri of both “Nashville” and “Thelma and Louise” fame.

Tommy became the first woman of colour put forward for a prestigious Tony award in 2016, following her work directing “Eclipsed.”

The dramatic stage play featured Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o in her Broadway debut and was written by Nyong’o’s “Black Panther” co-star Danai Gurira.

“The story of Aretha Franklin’s journey from child prodigy in Detroit to international supernova is rife with struggle and triumph, making her life one of the great American stories of all time,” Tommy said in a statement.

“As 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,” she continued, crediting Hudson, Khouri, and members of the film’s production team.

Franklin accumulated 26 Grammy nominations and 18 Grammy awards over the course of her career.

She died at the age of 76 at her home in Detroit in August 2018.

Tommy has previously directed episodes of comedy dramas “Inecure” and “Dietland,” and Louisiana drama “Queen Sugar.”

She is attached to steer “Born a Crime,” which adapts the autobiography of South African comedian and US political talk show host Trevor Noah. Nyong’o is also involved as Noah’s mother, Patricia.