Marlon Wayans says he wants viewers of the new movie "Respect" to know that “God gets you through" times of struggle — a concept the actor and comedian believes the film's subject, Aretha Franklin, discovered throughout her life.
"God gets you through,” Wayans told The Christian Post. “There is nothing that you can go through that you cannot get through. If you have God on your heart and you’re in His hands, just know that He's protecting you.”
“Respect,” which hits theaters this weekend, tells the story of Franklin, often dubbed the "Queen of Soul," and her journey to finding her voice. The film shows how Franklin’s life “began in the Church and ended in the Church,” according to director Liesl Tommy.
The movie depicts Franklin’s tumultuous life and highlights how her faith always served as a source of strength. Wayans stars as Franklin’s first husband, Ted White. White was known as a businessman, songwriter and producer who was also Franklin’s manager until she divorced him.
"Everything you go through is designed and made for you to be stronger," Wayans said. "He's not trying to break you. He's only trying to make you. So stay strong in Spirit, and be grateful, even for the worst things that happened to you because they're making you stronger. Trust God.”
Playing Franklin's first husband in the movie about the legendary soul musician's life was a "meaty role," Wayans said.
"[H]e was the romantic lead, yet the villain. I found it challenging but I led with love,” Wayans told CP. “His intention was to love her but he was just too damaged to complete the job and her best friend became her worst enemy and the thing that she was trying to run from.”
"It's ironic because he saved her from her controlling father, only to become her controlling husband and manager,” he added.
The “White Chicks” actor, who usually stars in comedic roles, said he enjoyed switching it up while acting and it wasn't “just one thing.”
In one scene, Franklin is shown overcoming the “demons” that came with the pressures of her life through prayer. Similarly, Wayans advised people to face their battles with God.
"Always God first, know that a lot of things that happened wonderful in the Bible came after something tragic,” the New York native explained. “Those things don't define you. What defines you is how you get over those things, how you get through those things, that creates character.
The actor said he's learned to fight his battles through laughter: "I learned to laugh at mine,” he said. “So if something bad happens to me, I immediately go, 'Alright, what's funny about this?' Because once I can laugh at it, and I can make other people laugh at it, I'm on my way to healing.”
The film also stars Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, Kimberly Scott, Saycon Sengbloh, Hailey Kilgore, Heather Headley Donovan, Mary J. Blige and more.
Editor's note: The film "Respect" includes adult themes and vulgar language.