Mary J. Blige joined The Clark Sisters on the AT&T stage at the 25th annual Essence Festival in New Orleans as they looked across at the women who play them in their forthcoming Lifetime biopic.
The Gospel music icons are the subjects of a new Lifetime movie, The Clark Sisters: The First Ladies of Gospel, slated to arrive in 2020. The film is executive produced by Blige, Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott.
“This movie was written by Black women, produced by Black women, acted by Black women and also directed by a Black woman,” said Aunjanue Ellis, who plays Mattie Moss Clark, the family’s matriarch. “This is a full house. Black women did this.”
Joining Ellis in the cast are Christina Bell (Twinkie), Kierra Sheard (Karen), Sheléa Frazier (Dorinda), Raven Goodwin (Denise) and Angela Birchett (Jacky). The crowd at the AT&T stage not only heard from the actresses and musicians, but they also saw the film’s preview.
Blige called the five-time Grammy Award-winning Clark Sisters her “earth angels.”
“Y’all don’t know how God used y’all so I could be here today,” Blige told the women. “I don’t have what they have but I sure tried to listen to them to learn.”
Holly Carter, another executive producer, said Blige was an integral part of the process in creating the film, which isn’t always a given in Hollywood with a big name producer.
“This project is almost 20 years coming,” she said. “I’ll never forget going down to Memphis, Tennessee, and saying (the The Clark Sisters), ‘do you trust me with your story?’”
Carter wasn’t the only one to have an impressive meeting with the Gospel singers; the actresses who played them also met the ladies before beginning to film.
“As we talked, I saw so much of myself and who I can look forward to be,” Birchett said to Jacky Cullum Chisolm, which made her wipe tears from her eyes. “That’s what I tried to focus on, and just not being afraid to be myself and have fun with my sisters.”
The Clark Sisters themselves are looking forward to seeing their story shared with the world, an opportunity for which they thanked the producers and actresses.
“I discovered them through a song called ‘I’m Looking For a Miracle,’” Blige said. “And I sang that song everyday ’til I got my miracle. … I’m not just a fan. I’m a sister.”Share :