Wednesday, August 10, 2022
Screenwriter Tracey Scott Wilson — getting the biopic ‘RESPECT’ right from the start
By Lapacazo Sandoval Contributing Writer
Published July 29, 2021

Tracey Scott Wilson (Courtesy Photo)

Opening August 13 — starring Jennifer Hudson

Tracey Scott Wilson, the American playwright, television writer, television producer, and now screenwriter is demanding “respect” — and you will be able to find out what it means to her with the release of the film, which she wrote — “Respect” which is about the life of the legendary R&B singer, Aretha Franklin.

“Respect” directed by Liesl Tommy, is scheduled to open in theaters on August 13 and the title of the film is a direct reference to the song, Respect which was written and originally released by Otis Redding in 1965. This song walked into legend, in 1967, when sung by Franklin and cementing the hit into one of her signature songs.


Now to the person behind the screenplay — Ms. Tracey Scott Wilson, her road from University to screen started at Rutgers University where she earned a BA in English and from Temple University with she earned a MA in English Literature.

Like many famous writers before her, she attempted writing a novel but lacking inspiration stepped into a playwriting class which creatively moved her spirit in a way that surprised her. At the encouragement of her mentor, playwright Chiori Miyagawa, Wilson applied for and won a New York Theatre Workshop fellowship in 1998, and it was at that workshop, she met director, Liesl Tommy, which was the start of their friendship and long-standing and ongoing creative relationship.

As a playwright, Wilson’s work has received readings at New York Theater Workshop, Second Stage Theater, The Public Theater, the Williamstown Theater Festival, and the Soho Theatre Writers’ Centre, in London, England.

Awards and residencies include two Van Lier fellowships from the New York Theatre Workshop, a residency at the Sundance Institute Playwright’s Retreat at Ucross and the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, the 2001 Helen Merrill Emerging Playwright Award, the 2003 AT&T Onstage Award, a 2004 Whiting Award, the 2004 Kesselring Prize, the 2007 L. Arnold Weissberger Award and the 2007 Time Warner Storytelling Fellowship. In 2009, she was the writer-in-residence at the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.

In 2014 the Joyce Foundation announced that Wilson was one of the recipients of its [2014] Joyce Awards. With her prize, Wilson worked intimately with a community in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and wrote Prep, which debuted at the Pillsbury House Theater during the theater’s 2015 season.

Wilson’s productions include Order My Steps for Cornerstone Theater Company’s Black Faith/AIDS project in Los Angeles; Exhibit #9, which was produced in New York City by New Perspectives Theatre Company and Theatre Outrageous; Leader of the People, produced at New Georges; Buzzer at Pillsbury House Theatre and the Public Theater in New York City; two 10-minute plays produced at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, a 10-minute play produced at Actors Theatre of Louisville, and The Good Negro at the Public Theater in New York City.


Wilson’s first major Manhattan production was The Story (2003) at the Public Theater. The Good Negro was produced at The Public and then at the Goodman Theater in 2010. Wilson’s Buzzer was produced as part of the Goodman’s 2013-14 season and was added to the Public Theater’s 2014-15 season in October 2014. The Story and The Good Negro have been published by Dramatists Play Service.

As a teacher, Wilson has taught and guest lectured at Brown University, Yale University, Rutgers University, and New York University.

Hollywood beckoned and in recent years, Wilson has expanded her career into television. Her credits include NBC’s Do No Harm, and was staffed on the FX drama series The Americans, for which she was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award (2015). Wilson also received an Emmy nomination (20180 for The Americans which also earned her a Peabody Award. Additionally, Wilson was a co-executive producer on 8 episodes of FX’s Fosse/Verdon, for which she was also nominated for an Emmy (2019). In 2019, she teamed up with playwright and television writer, Bash Doran, to write an episode of Channel 4’s Traitors. In 2018, Wilson chose to stay with her television home and inked an overall deal with FX.

Tracey Scott Wilson (Courtesy Photo)

Now to her work as a screenwriter for the aforementioned “Respect” — the biopic starring Jennifer Hudson (Aretha Franklin), Marlon Wayans (Ted White), Tituss Burgess (Reverend Dr. James Cleveland), Marc Maron (Jerry Wexler), Hailey Kilgore (Carolyn Franklin), Saycon Sengbloh (Erma Franklin), Skye Dakota Turner (Young Aretha Franklin), directed by Liesl Tommy.

Here is what screenwriter Tracey Scott Wilson had to share about getting the story right in the new film “RESPECT.”


Categories: Entertainment | Movies

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