The latest movie musical to get your toes a tappin’, while also tugging on your heartstrings, is “Sparkle”, a remake of the beloved 1976 film that follows the story of three sisters who form a Motown girl group during the 1960s. Alongside leading lady Jordin Sparks as Sparkle Anderson, the late Whitney Houston shines in her last onscreen role as Emma, the sisters’ single, rigidly religious mother who does not support their dreams to make it in the music industry.
When MTV News caught up with the members of Houston’s last cast, they opened up about what it was like working with her on this film and some of their favorite onset memories with her.
“There were a lot of conversations and I was surprised at how willing she was to go into her own personal experiences with specific anecdotes and stories that might help me be authentic in bringing out a lot of the sort of darker moments that Sister goes through,” said Carmen Ejog, who plays the troubled Tammy “Sister” Anderson. “There’s drugs, there’s toxic relationships that she has to deal with and Whitney, she’d been there and done it,” said Ejog. “She was very willing to explore that with me and that was just very generous of her, and it really shows on the screen in my performance, and I’m very grateful for that.” Tika Sumpter, who plays Delores “Dee” Anderson, also detailed how Houston influenced all of the actors in the film.
“I think also she had such a strong sense of family and love and I think it’s really ultimately about a family struggle and life, and I think a lot of people are going to be able to relate to that, but she was just giving in all aspects to each one of our characters,” said Sumpter. “I feel like there’s a little bit of her character in each one of us.”
Both Omari Hardwick and Derek Luke said they most enjoyed watching Houston interact with other members of the cast onset.
“My favorite with Whitney was behind the scenes. We had everything from a soul train line…I don’t think they have that on the (behind the scenes) b-roll,” said Derek Luke. “It was amazing, her and Jordan, all the girls doing soul train.”
Mike Epps reflected on his experience working on the film as being the most special one of his life so far.
“This movie was like a gift that Whitney Houston gave to the world. It was like, ‘I’m going to leave y’all with something real special,’ and we got blessed enough to be a part of the present, you know what I mean, the gift,” said Epps. “I had some good conversations with Whitney Houston just about the business and you know she would just tell us, ‘Just have a good time and enjoy yourself, live your life to the fullest.’ ”