"For me to come in with all these other actors and actresses when I'd never acted before was crazy. The pressure was crazy. I kept telling myself 'you cannot be horrible'," she explains. "It seemed like I was doing an extended music video. It was very similar in having the cameras there and crew and extras and all of that, but it was a lot longer. One big thing I had to keep telling myself was to not look directly at the camera!"
Luckily, she had the best mentor you could ask for to take her under their wing and really guide her through the process – the legendary Whitney Houston. "It was really fun to be in her presence. She's so giving and so open and wanted to see us all shine and do well, even though it was supposed to be her moment. She wanted us to really get the example of staying humble and not forgetting where you came from," she says, reminiscing on her time spent with Houston (before her untimely death in February). "It's very important for us to represent this film in the best way possible and represent it in the way she would've wanted to."
She's already begun shooting an upcoming film alongside fellow Idol alumni, Jennifer Hudson. But don't worry – she's not leaving music behind to get into acting. She's actually in the midst of recording a new album as well. And it looks like we can expect something we haven't heard from her before. "Sparkle has given me the opportunity to stylistically do something different. Something a little more R&B," she says of the influence the movie has been to her. "The '60s was an era of change and forward progress and every generation has been inspired by it. Even now, you go to stores and the fashion is in style right now."
Originally shot in Harlem, the film was changed to be set in Detroit, where Sparks had never been before. It was here that she was able to truly get in touch with her own style as a musician and experience the true essence of Motown.
"The energy is something you can actually feel. It's palpable. You walk into the city and feel that this was the Motown city, this is where music started." | RDW