Jordin Sparks talks Sparkle – Set Visit Report
Jordin Sparks talks Sparkle – Set Visit Report
By Elle Castro
May 16, 2012
There’s no way we can go without properly acknowledging that singer/fledgling actress Jordin Sparks has grown tremendously in her career since winning season six of television favorite, American Idol, in 2007. Sparks will reach another career high this summer when she hits the big screen in the remake of the 1976 classic film “Sparkle.” The movie tells the story of three singing sisters trying to successfully make it in the music business.
Blackfilm.com caught up with Sparks, who plays the lead character Sparkle, last November during a set visit in Detroit. The anxious singer dished on her involvement with the project, how she prepared for the role, and how she felt to have worked closely with her idol and cast mate, the late Whitney Houston.
How has is been filming in Detroit? What is your opinion of the first take of Sparkle now that you’re shooting the remake?
Jordin Sparks: Actually, it’s been really cool coming to shoot here. I’ve performed in Auburn Hills, at The Palace… so I haven’t really been in downtown Detroit but I’ve been able to be here and I can really see what the city was. I can feel why Motown started here and how amazing it was.
As far as knowing the movie before, I wasn’t alive in the ‘70s so I didn’t see it when it came out, but I had heard about the remake at the beginning of the year (2011) before I even knew that I was going to be considered for auditioning. So I’d heard about it, so you know Netflix I went on there and watched Sparkle and I really liked it. I love anything that has to do with music.
Do you feel any pressure being the lead in the film? Do you have any music on the soundtrack?
JS: Oh my gosh, this is my first movie ever, and so it being my first movie and also being one of the principals…it’s a lot of pressure but I’m kind of like just flying by the seat of my pants. It’s great to have such an amazing cast with me because they’re helping me. I’m like, ‘Is that ok? Am I responding in the right way? Is that where my emotion is supposed to be?’ Salim (Akil), the director, he’s so great because we shoot things out of order; so the hard thing for me is to try and figure out where I am emotionally and in my growth stage. And Salim is so great because he comes to me and he’s like, ‘This is where you’re at in life. This is what just happened to you.’ And I’m like, ‘Thank you ‘cause I had no idea.’ But it is a lot of pressure, but it’s so much fun too; it’s a completely new experience for me. I did Broadway last fall, but now I’m going to be able to do acting and music but in a movie format; as well as I like doing it. I hope it turns out really well. It looks really good from what I’ve seen so far.
I can’t tell you the names of the songs that I did separately [for the soundtrack], but we are doing most of the songs from the original film. We’re doing “Hooked on Your Love,” “Giving Him Something He Can Feel,” “Jump,” and there’s another one from the original, but we’re trying to figure out how to put it into the story of Sparkle. Yes, I did some new stuff that I absolutely fell in love with and I’m so excited to do. So I think you guys are really going to enjoy the soundtrack when it comes out.
A lot of the songs from the original film were legendary songs; do you have a feeling that the new stuff will be just as legendary?
JS: I think that the new stuff has the possibilities to be. I heard the demos; R. Kelly is doing a lot of the new stuff, and he’s just a beast. So to be sitting here hearing him sing the demos, I’m going. ‘How am I supposed to replicate that?’ I’m very honored and excited to sing songs that he’s written and been producing. They’re amazing. I think they’re going to be really, really good… I know they’re good because I’ve been listening to them on my iPod and they’re awesome.
Why did you want to pursue acting? And how did you prepare yourself for this role in particular?
JS: Ever since I was little, I knew that singing is what I wanted to do. And then I got into doing drama club at Community Theater in school. We lived in New Jersey, so I went to Broadway a lot and saw plays and I just loved seeing people being able to play a different character and be able to be themselves at the end of the night. So, I’ve always wanted to do it, I just didn’t know when it was going to happen and then this just sort of fell into my lap. I’m really excited for this being my first movie, like the cast and I’m like, ‘This is my life.’ But it’s been a lot of fun.
I don’t really know how I prepared for the role. I was like, ‘I’m playing Sparkle.’ They said, ‘Yep.’ And I was like, ‘Ok.’ I just prayed and prayed and prayed cause you never know how other people are going to be when you meet them and I never did a movie before so I didn’t really know how to prepare. I read the script over and over and over again. I really loved it so it wasn’t hard to read it. I read it back and forth. I had the script for a while before we started shooting so I just wanted to make sure I knew my lines and to figure out my emotions and try to figure out like how I would respond and then taking a step backwards and trying to figure out how she would respond cause we’re similar but we’re still very different at the same time.
Why do you think it’s important to tell this particular story given the nature of the current music industry?
JS: It’s really amazing to see because Sparkle in the movie she goes through a lot of adversity and she deals with insecurities with herself and trying to overcome that. Being around with her families and seeing them go through things herself, just everybody’s changing and everybody goes through stuff like that whether it’s an entertainer or [not]. Everybody goes through something and can have a personal struggle. So a lot of people are going to be able to relate to it. I think a lot of young girls or young men who are trying to break into the industry, even though this is based in the ’60s, they can see that it takes a lot of work and it also takes a lot of dedication and a lot of sacrifice. I think they’re going to be able to relate to the girls, and the mothers are going to be able to relate to Whitney cause she’s so awesome. But I think they’re going to be able to relate to Sparkle because she’s got that slight insecurities in herself and you see her grow and you see her blossom. I’m hoping that when people walk away they say, ‘Ok, if she can overcome stuff, if she can find it in herself to do something after all of that just happened, I can do it too and I’ll be ok too.’
You’re already a superstar, but being that this is your first movie, and movies take you to a whole another level, and with it being Sparkle people are going to see it just because they want to see how well you’re going to do… are you ready for the extra attention and how your life is going to change?
JS: I was just saying that I don’t know if I’m ready for this yet. I don’t know if I’m ready for my life to change again because you’re right it’s a whole another level and I’m just like well I must be ready because I was put here and I’m supposed to be here and I’m doing the part for a reason. So, I’ll let you know when it happens.
Can you talk about how you got involved in the project? Is it something that came to you, or did you go after it and talk about any audition that you had to do for it?
JS: It was a little bit of both. Like I said I had heard about the project, you know it’s been in the works for a while. I first heard about the project earlier this year , and it was funny because I was like, ‘Sparkle—that would be so funny if I got to play that role…’ cause my last name is Sparks. So I thought, o that would be so funny. So I read the script and I had that for a while, and then all of a sudden it became, ‘Are you interested? Do you want to go audition?’ and I was like, ‘Ok, I can do this.’ And if somebody just tells me to sing, it’s no problem, but you tell me to go stand in front of someone and go act, it’s like something else, and here memorize these lines and kiss this guy that you just met and it’s… I was shaking. But I did do the audition process; they pulled me in a couple of times. I never asked who else was auditioning because I didn’t want to know. I had a meeting with the casting director, and then the next one Salim came in and then the next one a few other people came in and then they taped me and the producers and everybody got together and watched the tape to see how it goes. Then I was sitting in a meeting outside of the hotel near the roof pool, and I got the call that I made it and I just screamed so loud. I was so excited. It was a lot and it was a learning curve for me as well to figure out how the audition process is and I know I guess all of them are different but it was fun for me. All of it has been so much fun.
What was your reaction when you found out that Whitney was going to be involved?
JS: As a singer, Whitney is like through the atmosphere…She is just somebody that you aspire to want to sing like. I remember like with Whitney around everybody just trying to mimic her. I already knew like that she was executive producing so I knew that she would be around and that I’d be seeing her around; and then I heard that she was going to be playing my mom and I was just like, ‘Could this get any better?’ It’s been so exciting, she’s such a riot and it’s so fun to be around her. For the past two weeks we’ve done a lot of scenes together and she is so funny. She’s definitely going to make a lot of people happy. She has millions upon million of fans and I think they’re going to be very happy to see how she is in this movie. As well as the people who doubt that she’ll be able to do it, I think they’re going to be pleasantly surprised as well. I’m just so excited…I was on the red carpet when I found out that she was going to be playing my mom. They’re (the press)were asking me questions and in my head all I was thinking was, ‘Whitney’s playing my mom.’ I couldn’t even pay attention. But yeah, she’s great.