‘Sparkle’ Star Jordin Sparks Remembers Whitney Houston: ‘She Was So Nurturing’

Jordin Sparks will make her big-screen debut August 17 in Sparkle, starring alongside the late Whitney Houston.

For Sparks, 22, working with her idol was a dream come true, but learning of her death was an absolute nightmare.

She first heard the bad news while preparing for Clive Davis’ Grammy party, which Houston was set to attend.

“Whitney’s gone,” Sparks told Celebuzz. “I lost all feeling. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t say anything. I don’t think I was breathing.”

She continued:

“I still have moments where it hits me and it’s like, she’s not here, there’s this void.”

Sparkle casts Houston as mother of three singing daughters trying to make it in 1960’s Motown. Tika Sumpter and Carmen Ejogo round out the talented trio.

Though they recorded their parts separately, Sparks and Houston can be heard in “Celebrate,” a duet that plays over the credits. Sparks later honored Houston at the Billboard Awards, singing “I Will Always Love You.”

“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done and I never performed that song before in a concert,” recalled Sparks. “So I remember being on stage being ready to walk out and hearing her going, ‘You got this, you got this.’”

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The emotional moment took her back to the set of Sparkle.

“I didn’t know if I was doing it right,” said Sparks about working on her first movie. “She said, ‘It’s okay, you got this. You have to believe in your talent and know that you have it,’ and that’s something that I carried on through it.”

The last time Sparks saw Houston, the ingenue had just finished her big solo number, “One Wing.” Whitney, an executive producer on the movie, approached her.

“She put my head in her hands and looked at me and said, ‘You’re everything that we wanted,” Sparks said, tearing up. “To have your idol tell you that — that was the type of woman she was. She was so nurturing and wanted to see everybody else succeed. She just wanted to see us do well.”