Aretha Franklin’s family say they “do not support” new ‘Genius’ biopic: “This is about common, decent respect”

Cynthia Erivo will play the late soul singer in the series

Aretha Franklin’s family have spoken out against the new Genius biopic series depicting the star, saying they “do not support” it.

The series has been produced by National Geographic and stars Cynthia Erivo as the late soul singer. It premieres in the US today (March 21).

Franklin’s granddaughter Grace recently posted on TikTok about the show and her family’s feelings on it. “As the immediate family, we feel that it’s important to be involved with any biopic of my grandma’s life, as it’s hard to get any accurate depiction of anyone’s life without speaking to the ones closest to them,” she said.


“During the process of writing, directing, and filming this movie, we’ve reached out to Genius as a family on multiple occasions where we have been disrespected and told that we will not be worked with. As the immediate family — emphasis on immediate — we do not support this film and we ask that you also do not support this film, as we feel extremely disrespected, and we feel there will be many inaccuracies about my grandmother’s life.”


i’d also like to add we don’t have any grievances with the actors/actresses in either of these movies #justiceforthequeen

♬ original sound – grace 🙂

Her dad – and Franklin’s son – Kecalf has also spoken to Rolling Stone about Genius, who said any communication between the family and National Geographic ended when his cousin Sabrina Garrett-Owens stepped down as the representative of Franklin’s personal estate.

“We had our lawyers reach out to them and see if we could have some type of input and see the film and say what we like and what we didn’t like about it,” Kecalf explained. “And the report that we got back was saying that it was too late, production had already wrapped up and that they didn’t want to work with us. It was basically too late.”

Franklin’s son said the family’s issues with Genius were not related to money. “This is about common, decent respect for our family,” he said. “If I was to do a movie on your family, I would try and speak with you, your sons, daughters, grandchildren and people like that. And we just never felt like we got a shot to speak to them freely from my heart about our family member.”

A spokesperson for National Geographic said in a statement that both parties had the same goal – “to honour and celebrate the life and legacy of Aretha Franklin”.


“We worked with many people who knew Ms. Franklin — from Clive Davis to members of her family’s estate — to make sure we told her story in an honest and authentic way,” they added.

Meanwhile, in another biopic titled Respect, Jennifer Hudson is also set to play Franklin. The film has been delayed several times due to the coronavirus pandemic, but is currently set to premiere in the States on August 13, 2021.