Aretha Franklin’s family is slamming National Geographic’s upcoming Genius: Aretha miniseries, which starts airing March 21. The series stars Cynthia Erivio as Aretha Franklin and follows her rise to stardom. However, Franklin’s family state that the people behind the series refused to work with them on bringing Franklin’s story to life in an authentic way.
Franklin’s granddaughter Grace Franklin has released a TikTok video explaining why her family wants fans to boycott watching the Nat Geo miniseries.
“As immediate family, we feel it is important to be involved in 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 reached out to Genius as a family on multiple occasions, where we’ve been disrespected and told that we will not be worked with.”
“As 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,” she continued.
Aretha Franklin’s granddaughter “Grace Franklin” speaks regarding her grandmother’s Biopic. pic.twitter.com/bzTpldPeAz
— The 1st Lady of Love (@The1stLadyLove) March 15, 2021
Another of Franklin’s granddaughters, Victorie Franklin, posted about the family’s initiative Justice for the Queen, which aims to protect Franklin’s last wishes for her family and estate. The post features a call to action for a #JusticeForTheQueen protest in Detroit. Victorie Franklin asked for people to support the family in their fight against the series.
“Throughout this process they have neglected to include my family and we don’t believe the series will be an honest reflection of who my grandmother was,” she wrote, as reported by The Jasmine Brand. “We ask that you stand in solidarity with us and honor my grandmother’s legacy.”
Victorie also liked a comment under her post that reads, “PERIOD!!!! Your grandmother chose Jennifer Hudson anything else is trash!!! That series is just so disrespectful.” The comment is in reference to Hudson starring as the Queen of Soul in the upcoming biopic Respect. Franklin chose Hudson to portray her before her death in 2018.
Franklin’s youngest son Kecalf Franklin spoke last month about the miniseries, saying that the deal to make the series was “pushed through without our consent.”
“If you are a true fan please do not support it!!!” he wrote on Instagram, according to The Grio. He clarified that the family has no ill will towards the actors, who “we know they are just doing their jobs.”
In response to the family’s criticism, Genius: Aretha showrunner and head writer Suzan-Lori Parks gave a statement to the Detroit Free Press, writing how the series’ intent is to honor Franklin’s life and career.
“As the showrunner of Genius: Aretha, I can tell you that every single day (and twice on Sunday!)–through COVID, social unrest, and every other challenge we faced–our intention was to respect Ms. Franklin in every aspect of our show and in every decision we made,” she said. “As ‘The Queen,’ she is deserving of every single celebration of her life that the world can muster. We worked with so many people who knew Ms. Franklin–from Clive Davis to representatives of her family’s estate–to make sure we told her story in an honest and authentic way. And, on a personal note, as a Black American woman, I was taught at a very early age that soul is universal. Our series is all about soul and we are honoring the life and soul of Aretha Franklin.”