Lake Charles native cast as Smokey Robinson in new Aretha Franklin biopic

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 7:44 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - One of the most anticipated movies of the year hits theaters Friday, and some in the Lake Area may notice a familiar face.

Academy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson aims for Oscar gold again in Respect, taking on the role of legendary singer Aretha Franklin and delivering soul-stirring renditions of classic hits including “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Think,” “Chain of Fools,” and — of course — the title song “Respect.”

Respect traces the “Queen of Soul’s” rise to stardom.

If you’re from Southwest Louisiana and plan on catching the movie at theaters this weekend, you just might see a familiar face on the big screen.

Lake Charles native and actor Lodric Collins is set to appear in the movie and traveled to Lake Charles this week to discuss his latest role and what it means to celebrate it with friends and family in the Lake Area.

”This place is what made me. I grew up across the street from this place [KZWA radio station]. Literally, across the street from this place,” Collins said.

Lodric Collins found his love for acting at a young age.

”One day my grandmother said ‘hey, we’re gonna go to the theatre today,’ and we went to ACTS theatre. And I’m like ‘where did this place come from?’ And I remember walking into this warehouse, and it was like this whole other world,” Collins said.

It’s the same love he felt that day at ACTS theatre that has now birthed a noteworthy career in television and film. With a resume that includes various roles, Collins said his big break came after being cast as a rescue worker in the soap opera All My Children.

”And, I remember the casting director says ‘hey you were in the Marine Corp.’ And I was like ‘yeah, I was in the Marine Corp.’ and he was like ‘do you know how to repel off of a mountain?’ It helped me understand that the universe has been at play this whole time,” Collins said. “If I hadn’t done the Marine Corp and embraced that part of myself and put those things on my resume, I probably would have never gotten that position.”

He said his current role in Tyler Perry’s hit show The Oval directly prepared him for his shot at the big screen.

”It got me through that and it let me know that this is possible,“ Collins said. “If it had not been for The Oval, I would have been shooked. I booked The Oval four days before we started shooting, and I had 25 scripts to read. Immediately after that, Respect came and usually you have time to prepare. I booked the role on a Friday, they confirmed it on Saturday, I was on the plane on Sunday, and shooting by Monday. A friend reminded me like ‘dude, you just came from shooting 25 episodes that you started 4 days before you got the script, you can do this!’”

Collins will be taking on the role of the legendary Smokey Robinson, alongside academy-award winner Jennifer Hudson, in the long-awaited biography of Aretha Franklin.

”I played his music on repeat! The idea of playing somebody you idealize... it’s a lot because it comes in waves.” Collins said. “I get to play this living legend that’s still living on this earth that I idealize.”

The last time Collins was back home was to assist with storm recovery after Hurricane Laura. He said tapping into this latest role was like a full-circle moment.

”Making sure that my people here are good is really, reall important to me, because wherever I go, they’re always in my heart,” Collins said. ”Right now, I’m kind of on a high - not from the movie but mainly because I’m coming back down, I’m seeing smiles on people’s faces. And that means a lot.”

Respect features an all-star cast alongside Hudson, including fellow Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, Marlon Wayans, and Grammy winner Mary J. Blige. It was directed by Liesl Tommy and filmed in Metro Atlanta.

The movie is currently playing in theaters nationwide, and in the meantime, you can always catch Lodric every Tuesday night starring in Tyler Perry’s The Oval on BET.

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