Lifetime recently debuted the highly anticipated biopic, “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel”, that tells the life story of the infamous gospel group, The Clark Sisters. The GRAMMY-Award winning group is the highest selling female gospel group in history. With such an iconic status, their biopic had to match their level of greatness, and it did just that.
The film was directed by Christine Swanson and the executive producers were Queen Latifah, Missy Elliot, and Mary J. Blige. The musical director was Donald Lawrence, who has written and produced for the Clark Sisters for years. The women who played the Clark Sisters and their mother, Mattie Moss Clark, included Christina Bell (Twinkie Clark), Kierra Sheard (Karen Clark), Raven Goodwin (Denise Clark), Sheléa (Dorinda Clark), Angela Birchett (Jacky Clark), and Aunjanue Ellis (Mattie Moss Clark). Not only did they portray their roles greatly, but they actually sang and recorded every musical piece that the biopic contained. I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Angela Birchett on Friday before the biopic premiered to get more insight on the filming process and her after thoughts.
From the start, it was easy to tell how much of a sweet soul Angela Birchett was. Known for being a Broadway performer, obtaining the role of Jacky Clark was the first big role she’s ever received. When asking her about the process of working with her castmates, she mentioned that they had an “instant connection.” In fact, they connected so well, that it wasn’t hard for Donald Lawrence to train them and give them the infamous Clark Sisters sound. During the interview, she emphasized her admiration for the director, Christine Swanson, who carried out her vision for the film throughout the whole production process. She also noted that working with such iconic music figures was a wonderful experience in itself.
The beauty about this biopic is that the artists that were being honored were still alive and well to partake in the production of it. I asked Angela what she took away from learning how to portray Jacky Clark from the woman herself during this whole process and she pointed out the fact that Jacky always had something to fall back on. From the time the Clark Sisters started and up until now, Jacky Clark has been a nurse. “I asked her well how did you manage being a nurse while traveling and performing? She said her job understood that she had other things to do but she always had her job to fall back on. Gospel artists and music artists in general make most of their money from touring, so she always had a job in case things changed” said Birchett. When asked what she wanted the viewers to take away from the film, she said she wanted them to learn the Clark Sisters’ story and to see how everyone goes through things.
We ended off the interview with her sharing some words of encouragement for everyone during this pandemic. “Regardless of who we are, everyone is going through this. Take this time to mend relationships. Life is too short. Spend time with your loved ones. We really just have to take this time to be patient and trust in God”, she said. As far as what’s next for Angela Birchett, this is just the beginning for her, so stay tuned! The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel biopic premiered last night on Lifetime network and trended #1 on Twitter. If you missed this wonderful film, you can stream it on Lifetime or catch it replaying throughout this week.