“I really set out to do gospel plays when I got the opportunity to do film and I am having a wonderful time doing it,” says Jakes.
“Sparkle” is the latest of several feature films to be produced by Bishop T.D. Jakes, but the preaching powerhouse wants to make one thing clear — his church isn’t making movies.
The nationally known preaching powerhouse, who fills sports stadiums and draws 30,000 worshipers to his church in Dallas, initially set out to make gospel plays, but stumbled in the film arena after producing his first feature film last year.
“I did kinda stumble into it,” affirms Jakes, who is involved in casting and negotiating business deals. “I really set out to do gospel plays as I really think it has an audience and a voice beyond the pulpit. Once I started doing it, I found that I really liked being able to present messages in a dramatic format. When I got the opportunity to do film, I thought this is a great way to communicate with a broader audience, and I am having a wonderful time doing it.”
Thomas Dexter “T. D.” Jakes, Sr., who ranks among the 25 Most Influential African Americans, made his presence felt in Hollywood in 2011 with the release of “Jumping the Broom,” an award winning romantic comedy that debuted as the #1 comedy of that year. He followed up that offering with “On the Seventh Day,” the first sequel in the ‘Woman Thou Art Loosed’ franchise and now serves as an Executive Producer on the movie “Sparkle,” a remake of the 1976 movie of the same name made famous by actors Irene Cara and Philip Michael Thomas (“Miami Vice”).
“My church still sees me primarily as a pastor. I brought to our church more entrepreneurial and business people who are inspired not only by my preaching, but by my tenacity,” shares Jakes. “TD Jakes Films is a separate foreign profit entity with a separate staff, separate accounting and even separate facilities,” he continues. “When people see you in two or three different arenas, they put everything together and they think the church is making movies, and my church isn’t making movies. My ministry and who I am as a person is affected by every experience I have and all sides of me benefit from those experiences.”
Set in the 1960s, “Sparkle” stars American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, Derek Luke, Mike Epps, Carmen Ejogo, and tells the story of a musical prodigy, who struggles to become a star while overcoming issues that are tearing her family apart.
“The story is more focused on the struggle of one girl who wants to accomplish her dreams, and it addresses an era in which music was on an upswing,” shares Jakes, who was a fan of the original film and jumped at the chance to produce the remake.
“People who love the original will love this one even more. I loved the original and thought it was a film that was an inspiring story, which deserved another chance at the box office. To bring it to life on screen again was something that I thought was worth doing,” Jakes adds.
Directed by Salim Akil, “Sparkle” also stars Whitney Houston in her last film performance and for Jakes, making a movie with the legend who also served as executive producer, was an honor.
“She performs so well on screen and her work speaks for itself. Different actors bring different flavors to the film and it is going to be entertaining and be widely received. I think it’s important that we see this movie. You’ll be riveted because the cast is quite believable, very, very talented, very, very gifted people, and though they have a lot of fun doing their job, they’re still very professional at being able to deliver cinematically the power of a very prolific and profound story.”
The movie is likely to generate an Oscar buzz, due to its quality cast, message and material and although Jakes is hopeful for an Academy Award, he’s equally skeptical.
“You are always hopeful for an Oscar, but there is a lot of politics involved in that, and I am still learning how all of that operates in Hollywood. It is not always determined by the quality of the performance. ‘Sparkle‘ has got enough drama in it and enough altercation and yet it has enough sensitivity and compassion. It is the kind of interesting story that is part of our history that people outside of the African American community will also be intrigued by it.”
The West Virginia native who serves as a senior pastor of The Potter’s House in Dallas, Tx., has a slate of movies scheduled for release in upcoming months. These include a biopic on Winnie Mandela, which stars Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard.
“We are working on a lot of things and are considering the possibility of taking ‘Sparkle’ to Broadway,” Jakes continues. “We are in the process of doing a film called ‘Heaven is for Real,’ which will be a very strong faith based film we hope to get out by the spring of 2013, and the independent film coming out called ‘Winnie,’ which takes place in South Africa and is about Nelson Mandela and his marriage to Winnie, and the movie I just did ‘Woman Art Thou Loosed,’ which was on limited released is about to be go out on DVD this month.”
Pictured: Mike Epps and T.D. Jakes on the set of “Sparkle.Photo credit: Sony Pictures, courtesy The FrontPage Firm