BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — When most singers make the leap from recording artist to movie star, it's usually a well-calculated career maneuver.
However, for bubbly sixth season “American Idol” champion Jordin Sparks, the jump from stage to screen just, well, kinda happened.
The way Sparks tells the story of how she became the title character in a remake of the 1976 musical “Sparkle” is that her music career was unexpectedly in flux last year while she was parting ways with her management and her label was undergoing a shake-up. Unable to record a new album and uncertain of her future, Sparks looked to another passion — acting.
“I was in this weird limbo and 'Sparkle' just fell into my lap,” Sparks says. “My agent sent it to me and said, 'What do you think? Do you wanna audition?' I read the script and fell in love with it. I related a lot to Sparkle.'
Sparks won the “Idol” crown at the age of 17 and is now 22. She's grown up in that time, losing her chubby teen frame for a svelte sexy figure.
“Sparkle” represents her growth as an actress as well.
“Sparkle,” which opens Friday, tells the story of a Detroit singing sibling group attempting to break into the music industry in 1968. As if starring in her first feature film wasn't nerve-racking enough, she learned that Whitney Houston, who'd been working for 12 years with producer Debra M. Chase to remake “Sparkle,” would be playing her strict churchgoing mom, Emma, who turned her life around after battling her own demons.
Houston died Feb. 11 after accidentally drowning in a hotel room bathtub. After the death, the film has become more than a potential Sparks breakout. It's serving as a tribute to Whitney.