Let’s face it: While many pop culture fads wear out their welcome in a hurry (vampires and werewolves, anyone?), there are a few storylines that are like your favorite blue jeans. No matter the season, they never seem to go out of style.
And if the continued success of reality programming like “American Idol,” “The Voice” and “America’s Got Talent” serves as any indication, there’s still no shortage of people willing to watch their ordinary peers compete for what’s touted as the ultimate prize, namely seeing their name in lights.
But if re-runs of VH1’s “Behind the Music” and movies like Dreamgirls, Walk the Line, Ray, Almost Famous and A Star is Born have taught us anything, it’s that the journey to musical superstardom is never as easy or as glamorous as it seems. If anything, they are cautionary tales full of uncomfortable compromises, tragedy and more drama than your average episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”
Still, there are plenty of artists like Jordin Sparks who not only make a successful career in entertainment work, but manage to keep their integrity intact in the process. As the youngest winner of “American Idol” at age 17, the now 22-year-old Platinum recording artist and Broadway alum who’s making her feature film debut in the highly anticipated Sparkle, relies heavily on her personal faith and the support of her tight-knit family to stay grounded.
“They are definitely not going to tell me something just because I want to hear it,” Jordin said in an interview with Examiner.com. “They’re all about keeping it real.”
Sparks also recently told VH-1 reporters that working with the late Whitney Houston gave her a sense of perspective. In addition to respecting the singer’s “down-to-earth demeanor,” she also admired Houston’s openness about past mistakes, saying it gave her the courage “not to be ashamed of her own [failings] at any time.”
For an inspiring story about a unique family who makes a discovery that's nothing short of miraculous, don't miss the gmc World Premiere Movie: Somebody's Child, Saturday, August 25 and Sunday, August 26 at 7, 9 & 11p et.
They May Say I’m a Dreamer...
Now with Sparkle, a remake of the famed 1976 flick that starred Irene Cara (Fame) and Philip Michael Thomas (TV’s “Miami Vice”), Sparks is proving she’s the proverbial triple threat as she puts what she's learned as a singer and Broadway star to good use.
Portraying the sweet, talented and decidedly optimistic 19-year-old growing up in Detroit during the Motown era, she may have a name that’s tailor-made for showbiz, but the road to the top of the charts (with her fiercely talented older sisters by her side) is anything but smooth.
Thanks to her strong-willed single mother (Houston) who’s already been there, done that and knows firsthand that fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, Sparkle doesn’t exactly have the total support of the most important person in her life. Worse yet, her youthful ideals seem to be shattering at every turn, especially since she’s a perpetual people-pleaser.
Director Salim Akil says one of the reasons he was drawn to the story was because he knew it was going to be a challenge to get just right. “That’s what attracted me to it, that it was a beloved movie in the African-American community and that I was going to start peeling back the onion on it and reinventing it,” Salim says. “That was a good space to be in.”
Letting Your Light Shine
When considering who should portray the film’s vivacious lead, producer T.D. Jakes, who teamed up with Akil for last year’s breakout hit Jumping the Broom, is convinced that Sparks was nothing short of perfect for the part.
“She is just so great for the role,” he says. “First of all, she relates personally to the story of Sparkle. She knows what it is like to have a musical gift and fight her way up, and all of the sudden, everything explodes onto the stage of life. But she also has an innocence and a freshness that perhaps somebody who had worked more in the industry would not bring to the screen.”
As for Sparks, having the opportunity to star in a movie about letting your light shine bright and fighting for your dreams, was ultimately a memorable experience where tapping into self-discovery was a must.
“Sparkle has two sisters who she loves very dearly. She has a mother who she loves very dearly as well. When you first meet Sparkle, she’s very bubby, very innocent,” Sparks relates. “She absolutely loves her mom, but you can tell that her wings are waiting to be broken. Music is all she can think about, but she hasn’t found her voice yet. So you get to see Sparkle finally discover who she is and how great she can be if she just believes in herself.”
Starring in the film also gave her a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with someone she’s always looked up to, Whitney Houston.
Sharing in a recent interview with Entertainmentwise.com that Whitney was a like a mother to her because her parents weren’t with her when the movie filmed, she can hardly believe that Sparkle was Houston’s last movie role – and her first.
“I get so overwhelmed because it’s my first film, and it’s so deep and heavy,” Sparks says. “I got to work with one of my idols and sing with her, and she even played my mother. I don’t know if anything will ever be as good as this.”
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic content involving domestic abuse and drug material, and for some violence, language and smoking, Sparkle, which has a running time of 111 minutes, opens nationwide on August 17.
Copyright 2012, watchgmctv.com. For permission to repost or reprint, click here.
About the Writer
After graduating with a B.S. in Journalism from North Central University in 1998, Christa Banister moved from Minneapolis to Nashville, Tenn. and eventually started working at CCM Magazine/Salem Publishing in various editorial capacities as an editor, columnist and website guru for five and a half years. After that, she launched her own Dallas-based freelance writing company and writes for numerous clients including Salem Publishing, Crosswalk.com (she reviews movies for them each week), Christian Single, Christianity Today, Threads Media, Songs4Worship.com, PassAlong.com and also helped kickstart the first Christian music blog for MTV. In addition, she also writes bios for professional recording artists and authors and penned her first two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers for NavPress.
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