Ever since I heard that Beyonce was gearing up to play Etta James in a biopic, I’ve had a little knot of worry in my stomach. I don’t stan for Bey, but I do admire her work ethic and I do definitely think she’s talented (that extended mix of Get Me Bodied makes me wanna shake it EVERYtime). I’m just skeptical about this. Because I LOVE me some Etta James and I want to see her story brought to the screen with the panache she deserves.
I’m curious about which parts of the story they tell, and how. Etta James might look like an adorable little kitten (doesn’t she?) but she’s a musical legend known for being notoriously fierce and feisty. She’s struggled with her weight and with drugs. She’s spanned musical genres. Hers would be a challenging role for an experienced actress, in my opinion. Notice that I’m trying to phrase this as carefully as I can. I’ve seen it happen on other sites, and I’m not ready for the Beyonce army to rise against me!
So I’ll just leave it like that. And to remind you all of the wonder that is Etta, here she is in 1962. Her cat’s eye makeup showed Amy Winehouse the way, and she’s giving that trademark grit and sass while wearing a super cute cardigan. Something’s got a hold on me — oh, it must be love!
In case you were wondering, Etta is still around and looking amazing. She lost over 200 pounds after stomach surgery (not sure what kind, LOL at her bio where it says check name of surgery. Get on that STAT, Etta James’ webmaster!). Her latest album, All The Way features her belting out covers of Purple Rain, Imagine, Holding Back the Years, and It’s a Man’s World. Her voice has deepened with age, but it’s still a magnificent and emotive instrument. If you want vintage Etta, songs like At Last and Sunday Kind of Love, check out At Last. It’s a definite classic to add to your collection.
** edited at 2:38 a.m. Friday — so I had no idea at the time I posted this little homage, but Etta James has addressed my concerns! Via Page Six — “I wasn’t as bourgie as she is, she’s bourgeois. She knows how to be a lady, she’s like a model. I wasn’t like that… I smoked in the bathroom in school, I was kinda arrogant, so those are some of the things I would want to tell her.” I’m glad Etta’s going to coach her through this. Although a part of me does dread the inevitable At Last remake, I’d definitely watch this movie. I love a good biopic.
And for the record, I also think Jill Scott or Raven Symone might have made an excellent choice for this role. But, could either actress bring the box office mojo?