Lifetime film on gospel icons The Clark Sisters is highest rated TV movie in 2020 with 2.7M viewers

Kierra Sheard and Queen Latifah at the TCA press conference/panel of Lifetime’s 'The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel,' in Pasadena, California, Jan. 18, 2020.
Kierra Sheard and Queen Latifah at the TCA press conference/panel of Lifetime’s "The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel," in Pasadena, California, Jan. 18, 2020. | Getty Images for Lifetime

Lifetime’s original movie “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel” brought in a record breaking 2.7 million viewers on Saturday.

The viewership count collected by Nielsen Media Research revealed that the film, based on the lives of the legendary singing siblings, is now Lifetime's highest-rated movie since 2016. It also became the most-watched original movie in all of broadcast and cable television so far this year across key demographics.

Executive produced by Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige and Missy Eliot, the film tells the “musical tale of the incomparable gospel singers, The Clark Sisters. The film recounts the story of the highest-selling female gospel group in history and their trailblazing mother, Mattie Moss Clark (Aunjanue Ellis). Credited with bringing gospel music to the mainstream, the five Clark sisters overcame humble beginnings in Detroit, Michigan, enduring abuse, loss, rejection, betrayal, and sibling rivalries to achieve international fame as icons of the Gospel music industry,” the film’s synopsis says.

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Nielsen Media Research said the movie has been the best ad-supported cable original movie since 2018 in demographics with 1.1 million adults. And the hashtag #TheClarkSisters ranked No. 1 among all other TV shows on Saturday with over 700,000 interactions, according to Nielsen Social. The hashtag was Lifetime’s top social media presence over the last year.

At a news conference for the film, award-winning singer Mary J. Blige spoke of the impact the sisters (Jacky Cullum Chisholm, Denise "Niecy" Clark Bradford, Elbernita "Twinkie" Clark, Dorinda Clark-Cole, and Karen Clark Sheard) had on her life.

“I've learned so much from them. They just have the anointing,” Blige gushed. 

“Seeing their story was like seeing what do our angels go through? They've been my Earth angels. So we all want to see what their life was like. What did they sacrifice? What did they give up to save our lives? That's why we're telling the story,” she said.

The cast includes Christina Bell as Twinkie; Kierra Sheard as her mother, Karen; Raven Goodwin as Denise; Sheléa Frazier as Dorinda; and Angela Birchett as Jacky. Directed by Christine Swanson (“Chicago P.D.”) the script was written by Sylvia L. Jones and Camille Tucker. In addition to Latifah, Blige and Elliott, executive producer credit also includes Holly Carter and Loretha Jones. 

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