Singer Jennifer Holliday will always be known as the original Effie White from the hit `80s Broadway musical, “Dreamgirls“. Her legendary solo, “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” brought audiences to their feet, earned her a Tony Award for Best Actress (Musical), two Grammy Awards and became a career-defining song for the then-overweight actress. But Holliday tells Inside Edition that as memorable as her performance was then, she feels forgotten by the makers of the soon-to-be-released film version of the play now.
“I’m not going to lie — I did have hopes that I would reprise the role for the screen. What I wasn’t prepared for was not to be even asked to do a cameo of some sort,” Holliday tells “Inside Edition’s Deborah Norville in an interview that aired on Nov. 22.
Holliday calls the reprise of Dreamgirls “bittersweet” for her adding that “For six months they used my voice on the trailer.”
In the movie, the Effie White role that Holliday made famous will be played by Jennifer Hudson, an acting newcomer best known for making it into the final rounds of Fox’s American Idol. “Dreamgirls,” which opens in theaters on Dec. 25, has a star-studded cast that also includes Beyonce Knowles, Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy. Already, Hudson has garnered critical acclaim, as well as praise from Oprah Winfrey for her acting and singing in the film.
Still, Holliday says none of that would have been possible without her pushing to beef up Effie’s role back when Dreamgirls was being developed.
“What the public doesn’t understand is that I actually created my role. I wasn’t a girl-for-hire and someone said, ‘Here’s the script and here’s the songs — your job starts tomorrow. I actually created that role,” Holliday says in the interview. “Everything from the song “And I Am Telling You” to the end of the second act, I created. Effie was not in the second act at all. I fought for her to be there. I fought for her to come back strong. I fought for her to have more songs.”
Holliday says that she is coming forward now because she feels more optimistic and in control of her life for the first time in years having maintained her weight loss from her one-time 340 lbs. high and bounced back from a depression that once prompted her to attempt to take her own life with sleeping pills.
“I have suffered with clinical depression, so, to some people, I’m a bit of a recluse, but I do still sing,” she tells Norville. “I was only a voice for so many years, not a person. But I do feel, for the first time, that I am a person and that I am more than a voice and somehow I do want to move forward.”
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