“She walked in and I was like ‘This. Is. Awesome,’” Sparks told V Magazine. She said she was tongue-tied as the R&B icon sat down next to her.
At first Houston was just supposed to be an executive producer for the film, but after much consideration she decided to take on the role of Sparkle’s mother, Emma. This allowed for even more bonding to take place between Houston and Sparks; the two women became very close. Houston even shared an interesting little story with Sparks after she heard the legend singing “I Have Nothing” under her breath one day. She reached out to Sparks as she said, “I forgot I sang that. I was annoyed that day and just didn’t want to do it. We ended up doing it in three takes!”
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After building such a bond with her idol, Sparks was filled with grief when Houston passed away this February. “She was always so full of light. Every day she would open the door and say, ‘How are my babies this morning? Are my babies good? God is good. Praise the Lord,’” Sparks recalled as she choked back her tears. Ironically, many characters in the film, set to debut on August 17th, shared the same drug problems that Houston did. Despite the late star’s dark past, Sparks showed no judgment. Instead she offered understanding, stating that, “I can see how people can fall and people can flip or they can just get in with the wrong crowd.”