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Video still from 'Top Girls' interview with Liesl Tommy via YouTube.

South African Director Liesl Tommy Is Set to Helm Aretha Franklin Biopic, 'Respect'

MGM Pictures is moving ahead on the film chronicling the Queen of Soul's life.

South Africa's Liesl Tommy, the director of Eclipsedthe first Broadway play featuring an all-black, all-women cast—has been tapped to direct MGM Pictures' Aretha Franklin biopic, Ebony reports.


In Respect, the film will chronicle the life of the Queen of Soul starring Jennifer Hudson, who Franklin picked to portray her in the film before she passed away from pancreatic cancer in August 2018 at 76.

Callie Khouri, writer of Thelma & Louise and the creator of Nashville, has been tapped to write the screenplay of the film, following the rise of Franklin's career from being a choir kid at her father's church to the superstar we all know, Variety adds. Scott Berntein of Tradecraft and Harvey Mason Jr., producer and songwriter for both Franklin and Hudson, will be the producers of the film.

"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 says 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 with the enormous talents of the soulful Jennifer Hudson, Callie Khouri, and our incredible producers."

Tommy is a six-time Tony Award nominee for Eclipsed, as she was also in the running for "Best Director," making her the first black woman to earn such a nomination. She is set to direct the film adaptation of Trevor Noah's autobiography, Born A Crime, starring Lupita Nyong'o.

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The 13 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Simi, Stonebwoy, Riky Rick, Olamide, Wizkid, La Même Gang and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our Best Music of the Week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's new playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Cyclone Kenneth Could Be the Second Damaging Storm To Hit Mozambique In Over a Month

Tanzanian authorities have also warned those living along the southern coast to move to safer ground ahead of the storm.

Just shortly after Mozambique was ravaged with the devastating Cyclone Idai in March, the country has been warned of another destructive storm that's heading their way very soon.

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Stonebwoy & Beenie Man's 'Shuga' Is a Full Dose of Energy

Ghana meets Jamaica in this impressive new collaboration.

Stonebwoy, one of Ghana's major dancehall names, links up with Jamaican legend Beenie Man for this new single, "Shuga."

"Shuga" is built on stuttering synth hits and beat work produced by Ghana's StreetBeatz. Stonebwoy and the "King of Dancehall" connect over the energetic rhythm, each delivering their own verses—add one more track to the many stellar cross-Atlantic musical collaborations that have been going on for years, in particular between West Africa and Jamaica.

"This collab is legendary," Stonebwoy wrote on his social media pages.

The single comes paired with a new music video directed by BlingBlang which follows the Ghanaian star and Beenie Man to a railroad station as they turn a train car into a dancehall party. Beenie Man even plays the conductor for a few shots.

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