There’s something different about Jordin Sparks’ walk these days. Though never short on
confidence, the former ”American Idol: stars now moves with a gait that encompasses a
descriptive typically reserved for superheroes and Bruce Leroy from The Last Dragon.
Yes, Sparks carries herself like a purposeful woman, a woman of substance who has no
doubt about where she’s going in life. But can you blame her? Not only has Sparks proven to
the world that she can legitimately sustain a successful music career, she’s also preparing to
unleash her acting talents on the world when Sparkle opens nationwide on Aug. 17. In a way,
this film serves as an official farewell to Whitney Houston, who sparkles (pun intended) in her
last role before her untimely death. But it’s not just about goodbyes in this film, as we simultaneously
witness the birth of Sparks as a multifaceted entertainer right before our very eyes.
Rolling out sat down with Sparks in a Beverly Hills hotel suite to discuss Sparkle, moving on
without Whitney, and this new air of confidence that permeates everything that she does.
When we first visited you on set in Detroit, you were extremely nervous about taking on such
a huge role.
Now that the film is set to be released on Aug. 17, how are you feeling?
I feel really good. I’ve seen the movie three times now, and the first time that I saw it, it
was very difficult because I was watching it from a critical standpoint, analyzing my performance.
Not to mention that I was seeing Whitney on the screen for the first time, so I was a
complete wreck. I didn’t have any regard for the noises that I was making while I was crying.
She looked so incredible, and I think that part of the reason that I was crying was because
of how amazing she was … and I think the other part of it was how bittersweet it is that she’s
not here to physically see it. Trust me though; she is here with us and seeing us through this
process of putting this movie out.
After the tears, were you able to watch it as a fan?
I did. I saw it last night, and it is so good! I mean, the movie is really, really good. I’m so
proud of it, and I’m proud of the fact that it became everything that we wanted it to be. It’s as
special as I thought it would be, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.
Describe the feedback that you’ve been getting from your fans?
All of the fans have been great, and just really excited about seeing it. For my super fans,
it’s going to be great, because they finally get to see me in a different light. That’s fun for them,
but at the same time, they also get to hear new music from me. In that regard, it’s kind of a
double whammy. From the people who have already seen it, the overwhelming consensus
is that they love it and they can’t wait to see it again. To me, that’s a big deal … not because they loved it … but because they want to see it again. That really means a lot to me. That they
would take more time out of their lives to see something that is really important to me.
After you gave the initial yes that you wanted this to be your first acting role, was there any hesitation or doubt, on your part after making such a huge decision?
Absolutely not. When I first got the script, I knew that it would be special for whoever got
it. It just really spoke to me, and I instantly fell in love with it. It was also cool that Whitney
Houston was an executive producer on the project at the time, so in my mind that would have
made it even more special if I got the part. But as I was auditioning, I just really wanted to
get the part because I could see a lot of similarities in both Sparkle’s story and in mine. My
label was going through a transitional period at that time and it was just really hard for me to
get music out. So while the circumstances were different, I could definitely relate to Sparkle’s
need to get the music that was inside of her out for the world to hear.
As you continue to evolve into the woman that you are, how do you handle the responsibility of being a role model?
One day at a time. With celebrity, you get the unofficial tag of being a role model, but I’m
okay with it, because there are 27 grandkids in my family, and I am the oldest. So even before
”American Idol,” I had them watching my every move and looking up to me. So every day
that I am out here pursuing my dream, I have them in mind, knowing that they are going to
be watching what I’m doing, what I’m saying and how I’m carrying myself. And because I
do that for them, it just comes naturally that I carry myself in a way that others can look up
to me as well.
As you reflect on Whitney’s life and legacy, did you see any parallels between her life and the movie?
Absolutely. Now that she isn’t here, it’s almost like she is answering so many questions
with this movie. Because she was Sparkle … and she was Delores … and she was Sister …
and she was the mother too. She was all of the characters wrapped into one. In the movie,
Whitney has a line where she says, “Was my life not enough of a cautionary tale for you” …
and it has so much weight to it. And I remember standing in front of her when she said it
and it really hit me then. But now, for her to be gone, it just holds that much more weight,
and it … lets me know that Whitney will continue to be with us throughout this entire journey