Carmen Ejogo (above, center) has us captivated. Her poise, downtown chic style and powerful performance alongside Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks in the remake of the 1976 movie Sparkle are just a few of the reasons we’re smitten with the British beauty.
Sparkle is “the most commercial thing I’ve ever done,” Ejogo told us when she dropped by Lucky. And indeed, she’s worked with critically acclaimed directors such as Michael Winterbottom (I Want You), Sam Mendes (Away We Go) and Neil Jordan (The Brave One). In Sparkle, Ejogo plays one of three sisters who form a 1960s Motown girl group. Though they become a sensation, fame threatens to tear the family apart. “I love that my character’s story such a cautionary tale,” Ejogo says of Sister Williams whose problems with substances and men fuel the movie’s drama. “One of the great gifts Whitney left us was her willingness to be accessible and vulnerable. If she was here now, she’d be talking about the parallels to her own life; she wouldn’t be shying away from the fact that so much of what my character goes through is very much what she had lived through in real life.”
And although seeing Houston’s last performance is good reason enogh to see Sparkle, the quintessential sixties mod-shaped costumes, beehive wigs and cat-eye makeup are major bonuses. “I went back and did all of my research," says Ejogo. "I watched Sharon Stone in Casino and old Revlon commercials.”
Ejogo hopes Sparkle will lead to “bigger and better roles like this,” but the experience of working with Houston and the message of the movie will stick with her. “At Whitney’s funeral, her sister made the point that making Sparkle was the one of the best experiences of her entire life,” recalls Ejogo. “For all of us, collectively, it was this really special moment as women telling a story of how to avoid dimming your light and finding your inner strength and being everything you should be.”
Watch the Sparkle trailer below (it opens tomorrow, Friday, August 17) and look out for Ejogo next in October’s Alex Cross as Tyler Perry’s wife and in Zero Hour, an upcoming ABC TV show costarring ER alum Anthony Edwards.
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