akils sparkle premiere

*Director Salim Akil knew he was stepping into some delicate territory when he agreed to take on the remake of “Sparkle,” the 1976 musical film starring Irene Cara and Philip Michael Thomas that went on to become a cult fave.

“Black folk love this movie,” the filmmaker said of the original in an interview alongside his wife, “Sparkle” screenwriter Mara Brock Akil. Alas, the pressure was on for both Akils to do right by the fans.

“In taking on this project, the thing that drew me to it was I was a bit afraid. I felt like I was on the edge,” admitted Salim. Not only was he putting his own spin on the beloved material, which follows the journey of three singing sisters on the rise to stardom, the 42-year-old Hollywood vet said he bent over backwards to make sure the film’s setting of late 60s Detroit was as authentic and precise as possible. Listen below.

Meanwhile, Mara Brock Akil said her goal with the screenplay was to keep the 1968 time period authentic, yet also contemporary enough to appeal to today’s young crowds.

“We kept saying, we don’t want to do a documentary of 1968. The conversation has to remain fresh because we’re talking about empowering women,” she told us. “That’s still a new story for a lot of women.

“It’s a cult classic, but a lot of 20-year-olds don’t know ‘Sparkle.’ Thirty year olds, they know ‘Sparkle’ vis-à-vis En Vogue who remade the song, ‘Giving Him Something He Can Feel,’ but they don’t really know the whole story. So how can we be modern?”

Below, Mara Brock Akil explains how she went about modernizing the late 60s, and how one aspect of the screenplay even mirrors current debates about auto-tune.

“Sparkle,” also starring Jordin Sparks, Derek Luke and Mike Epps, premieres on Saturday, March 23rd at 9 p.m. ET/PT, exclusively on STARZ. Watch the trailer below and scroll down for additional show times.

Additional show times (all are ET/PT)

Tuesday, March 26th 9:00 p.m.
Thursday, April 4th 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, April 10th 11:05 p.m.
Sunday, April 14th 6:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 23rd 10:40 p.m.

Wednesday, May 1st 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 5th 8:00 p.m.