Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Faith Evans to play Florence Ballard of the Supremes in biopic

Posted By on Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 2:22 PM


Faith Evans, whose new album Something About Faith, dropped Tuesday, confirmed on V-103 this morning that she'll be starring in the upcoming biopic on the life of Florence Ballard of the Supremes, which begins filming in Atlanta in January.

Ballard, a founding member of the Supremes, ended up as the tragic figure of the group. Relegated to singing "ooohs" and "aaahs" with Mary Wilson behind Diana Ross after Motown founder Berry Gordy made Ross the focus of the trio, Ballard never adjusted and was eventually replaced by Cindy Birdsong.

While Gordy and Smokey Robinson have made it their mission to uphold the legacy of Motown, disassociating the historic label from the loosely-based musical Dreamgirls, the similarities between the real Florence 'Flo' Ballard and Jennifer Hudson's character Effie White in the film version are striking:

In Dreamgirls, Jennifer Hudson (middle) played Effie White, the character loosely based on Florence Ballard of the Supremes
  • In Dreamgirls, Jennifer Hudson (middle) played Effie White, the character loosely based on Florence Ballard of the Supremes

Both were known for bombastic, soulful voices which were the exact opposite of real-life Supremes' lead Diana Ross, whose demure, cat-like purr launched a string of No. 1 pop hits for the group.

>> Both were kicked out of their respective groups by the label head (Motown: Gordy) and replaced by new singers (the Supremes: Cindy Birdsong).

>> Both fell into poverty, forced to rely on welfare, after being ousted from their groups.

But here's where their stories diverge:

>> Ballard, Mary Wilson and Diana Ross all shared lead roles in the Supremes before Berry Gordy made Diana Ross the focus of the group.

>> Unlike Effie and Jamie Foxx's character Curtis Taylor Jr., Ballard and Gordy were never romantically linked. And instead of Curtis unknowingly fathering a child with Effie, it was Diana Ross who was Gordy's secret baby mama for years as they kept their relationship out of the public eye.

>> Reports of Ballard leaving the group due to "exhaustion" masked the fact that Gordy fired Ballard due to unmanageable behavior that was likely a result of her diminished role in the group. After the Supremes, Ballard pursued a solo career with ABC Records, releasing two singles that never took off. Her downward spiral reportedly involved alcohol addiction and chronic depression.

>> And unlike Effie who returns triumphant in Dreamgirls' Hollywood ending, Ballard's comeback — which started slowly with interviews and random performances in the mid-’70s — was cut short in 1976 when she died of cardiac arrest at age 32.

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