Premiering April 11, 8 p.m. ET, on Lifetime is the first-ever biopic of the legendary gospel group The Clark Sisters. Produced by Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah and Missy Elliott, The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel is written by Camille Tucker and Sylvia L. Jones and directed by Christine Swanson, a Detroit native who also helmed Love Under New Management: The Miki Howard Story. The story shows the humble beginnings of trailblazing gospel group The Clark Sisters out of Detroit who have sold millions of records off nearly 20 albums, becoming the best-selling female gospel group of all time. The group, most known for hits like “You Brought the Sunshine” and “Is My Living In Vain,” most memorably came together during Aretha Franklin’s memorial service in August 2018.
Starring Aunjanue Ellis (When They See Us) as Clark family matriarch and musical architect, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, Raven Goodwin (Being Mary Jane) as Denise “Niecy” Clark Bradford, who left the group, singer Shalea Frazier as Dorinda Clark-Cole, singer Christina Bell from the Stellar Award-nominated group Zie’l as Twinkie Clark-Terrell, Angela Birchett as Jacky Cullum (Clark) Chisholm and Grammy-winner songwriter/singer and actress Kierra “Kiki” Sheard (Preacher’s Kid) as her mother, Karen Clark Sheard, the film explores the humble beginnings in the strict Church of God in Christ and trials and tribulations of the group that started out as five sisters under the stern, but loving tutelage and guidance of their mother.
Blackfilm.com spoke to Kierra “Kiki” Sheard, a bestselling singer/songwriter in her own right whose latest album KIERRA, due out this month, has already produced the hit single “It Keeps Happening,” on the heels of last year’s hit “Don’t Judge Me,” featuring Missy Elliott, one of the film’s producers. Sheard, an actress, as well, played Lithia in the 2010 film Preacher’s Kid with LeToya Luckett, Clifton Powell, Essence Atkins and singer Tank. The singer/actress opened up about playing her mother, her grandmother’s greatness, The Clark Sisters legacy and more.
How did you come about playing your mother?
Kierra “Kiki” Sheard: My manager has been wanting to do this story for quite some time. Holly Carter, she’s an executive producer. But I did have to audition. They did not give me anything. I had to fly to LA to audition. I originally auditioned for two roles, my aunt Niecy and I auditioned for my mom and the director, Christine Swanson, connected me with my acting coach, Justin Harris, and that was how it all happened.
Was it difficult for you to play her?
Kierra “Kiki” Sheard: It was. It was definitely challenging. I’ve done some roles before but this, in particular, was I got to say greater because I took it to heart and it wasn’t just a public thing for me. So, yes, definitely it was because my mom also is a bit more soft-spoken than I am. And I’m kind of more outgoing so I kind of had to match it up but it was a great experience. And then, of course, the singing, she is a monster vocally. She’s a true soprano and I’m not a true soprano. So even having to sing her part was quite challenging, but I loved the challenge. I was down for the cause and ready to go.
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SOURCE: Blackfilm, Ronda Racha Penrice