T.I. to play Aretha Franklin’s onetime lover in ‘Genius: Aretha’

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Los Angeles, March 27 (IANS) Rapper-actor T.I. has been added to the cast of an upcoming Aretha Franklin TV project as her one-time lover, fashion designer Ken Cunningham.

Cynthia Erivo will star as the music icon in “Genius: Aretha”, an authorised limited series which will chronicle the life and legacy of the late Queen of Soul, and although production was halted earlier this month due to the global coronavirus crisis, show officials have veiled a number of new cast additions, reports aceshowbiz.com.

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T.I. will play socially-conscious New York entrepreneur Cunningham, who approaches Aretha to invest in his fashion business, and ends up embarking on a relationship with the singer.

He eventually became the singer’s road manager, and fathered her youngest son, Kecalf Cunningham, who was born in April, 1970.

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Meanwhile, Antonique Smith and newcomers Tina Fears and Ethan Henry have also been added to the line-up. Henry set to portray civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.

The news was released to coincide with what would have been Aretha’s 78th birthday on Wednesday, March 25.

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“Genius: Aretha”, which also stars Courtney B. Vance as the musician’s father, reverend and civil rights activist C.L. Franklin, had been due to premiere this spring, but will now launch at a later date.

The TV series isn’t the only screen project about Aretha in the works. Actress Jennifer Hudson is also playing Franklin in a new movie biopic, titled “Respect”, which is expected to debut this Christmas instead of its previously-announced October opening, according to deadline.com.



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