It's hard to get excited about the Motown musical drama "Sparkle" without also getting a serious case of the sads over how much the movie's pre-release buzz is missing Whitney Houston, who died unexpectedly just after wrapping work on her supporting role as a struggling single mom in 1960s Detroit. But according to the women who play her daughters in the soon-to-be-released film, Whitney would have had some important things to say about her part in this story and the way it mirrors the reality of some of the iconic singer's own dark moments and not-so-happy endings.
Carmin Ejogo, who described the movie as "a crazy journey," said that Whitney didn't ignore or shy away from the difficult questions about how her "Sparkle" role related to her real life:
"Whitney was very aware of that storyline being parallel to her own," she explained. "I think it's to her credit that she was excited to bring a message that was as dark as it was light, and to be not scared of doing that. If she was here right now, she'd be talking about those parallels without any shame."
And according to Carmin, the experience of working with the musical legend was personal, profound and not at all compromised by Whitney's immense celebrity.
"When you get to that level, you can be so guarded...but she wasn't that person," she remembered, describing the way that Whitney's message overlapped with that of her character: "'Learn from me, learn from this cautionary tale,' is literally what she says in the movie."
Want to hear more from Carmin, plus stars Jordin Sparks, Mike Epps and others about the journey of making this movie? Watch the whole interview for more insights into working with Whitney, the surprising darkness behind "Sparkle" and what it was like to go back in time to the golden era of Motown.
Are you ready to go beyond the shiny surface with "Sparkle"?