On Tuesday evening, “Whitney” was the name on everyone’s lips at a screening of the film “Sparkle,” hosted by the Cinema Society with Circa and Alice + Olivia at the Tribeca Grand Hotel in Manhattan. The movie, which opens today, was executive produced by and stars the late Whitney Houston, chronicles three sisters and their attempt to hit it big in the music industry in Sixties Detroit. Houston — who also served as a resident den mother for the actors on set — was remembered by virtually everyone in attendance.
“It felt so star-aligned and so destined,” said a Marc Jacobs-clad Carmen Ejogo, who plays the supersultry Sister in the musical. “Whitney wanted to make this film for 12 years.”
Jordin Sparks, who made her acting debut in the title role, also spoke about the late singer.
“[Whitney] would walk in and she was so excited to see everybody and she wanted to see all of us shine, which you don’t see very often,” said Sparks, who wore a crimson peplum dress by Alice + Olivia. “The example she set was to always remain humble and to not be ashamed of who you are and not to forget where you came from. And that was something I will take with me forever.”
Decked in a sparkling floor-length Bill Blass gown, Sparks’ costar Tika Sumpter agreed: “She was the mom on the set. We were a real family.”
For Sparks, who was introduced at a young age to Sixties Motown music by her grandparents, the opportunity to immerse herself in the time period was humbling.
“We were where Motown started,” said Sparks. “That was the music capital of the world at that time. The energy was palpable. You could feel it.”
After the screening, guests visited the open-air yard of the Soho Grand Hotel for Alizé cocktails, mini hamburgers and plenty of star sightings. In attendance were a handful of Olympic gold medalists, including swimmer Cullen Jones and gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber and Kyla Ross.