ATLANTA — Over the Easter holiday weekend, Lifetime premiered the highly anticipated biopic for the Grammy award-winning gospel group The Clark Sisters, which became the highest rated original movie of the year on television.
Not only was the debut of “The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel” a top social trend, but Lifetime also reports more than 2.7 million viewers watched the April 11 broadcast, according to Nielsen.
The film tells the story of the highs and lows of the top-selling female gospel group of all time, and was executive produced by Queen Latifah, Missy Elliot and Mary J. Blige.
11Alive’s Ryan J. Dennis spoke with actress and singer Christina Bell, who appears as Twinkie Clark, hours before the premiere.
Bell reflected on the excitement of getting a call to play the role within less than 24 hours of submitting her audition tape.
“I was screaming, definitely,” Bell said. “They said, 'you’re Twinkie,' and can you be in Canada in two weeks.”
The budding actress did not hesitate to confirm the dream role.
“I said, 'I can be there right now! What’s the flight information',“ Bell recalled, laughing.
Bell, said Latifah, Elliot and Blige were invested in the story because it shaped all of their music careers.
“When we were told that they were the executive producers of the film, I was like, 'its definitely going to get told.' The story is going to be out there, and its important that you have a drive behind you so that your story can be told in front of millions of people that actually just want to know your business” Bell said. “The Clark Sisters are gospel royalty. They have not put their family business out in the open. People have assumed for many, many years. Now, they get to see the truth behind their story.”
To build an authentic bond of the Clark Sisters, Christina Bell said the cast bonded for two weeks as the three-month filming process began in Canada.
“We wanted to get to know each other, so the first two weeks we were there. So, the first week was actually us building a bond, and we went out, and got into each other’s business,” Bell laughed. ”On-screen, we wanted people to actually feel like were are Clark sisters, and we wanted to step into who we are personally.”
Bell also revealed that the recording icons were involved with the filming process and came on set throughout production.
“They were super involved with their own movie," Bell said. "They didn’t write the script or anything like that, but they were there to make sure that whoever said what was the right person, so the writers wanted to make sure everything was accurate to their account."
Bell says she and her castmates keep in touch with a group text thread.