Whitney Houston Helped Sparkle Co-Star Play an Addict

By McCarton Ackerman 08/14/12

The late singer counseled actress Carmen Ejogo in her role as a drug-addicted rising star.

Houston in a scene from Sparkle. Photo via

In upcoming film Sparkle, a remake of the 1976 musical of the same name, actress Carmen Ejogo plays the role of a familiar-sounding character—a drug-addicted singer coping with her sudden rise to fame. And she received some expert coaching. Apparently the late singer Whitney Houston, who plays the role of Ejogo's mother in the film, took the 38-year-old under her wing and shared candid personal stories of her own drug use. "She was very open with me about her battles," says the actress. "I was quite shocked. She shared some very personal stories. She was willing to be totally vulnerable so I could understand what it was like. She wanted my character to be authentic, and she went there in order for me to be able to bring that to the screen." In light of Houston passing away last February due to an accidental drowning and cocaine use, Ejogo says she expects the film to serve as a cautionary tale for anyone hoping to make it in Hollywood. "[Houston] was willing to be the example of what to avoid," she says. "She made this film for her daughter and for all girls to recognize the importance of not letting your light be dimmed by anything. To have gone through what she'd gone through, the public humiliation, and still have the guts to share that story is incredibly brave." Sparkle hits theaters nationwide on Friday.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.