NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Some of those who worked with Whitney Houston on her last movie are finding inspiration in the performance by the long-struggling singer, who they say delivers the bittersweet message that everyone deserves a second chance - an opportunity to sparkle.
Friday marked the debut of the remake of "Sparkle" in which Houston stars as the mother of a family of girls in Detroit who form a Motown-era singing group and struggle with fame and addiction.
It's a theme that plagued Houston in real life: The superstar, who would have turned 49 this month, accidentally drowned in a hotel room bathtub earlier this year, and authorities said her death was complicated by cocaine use and heart disease.
Bishop T.D. Jakes - a producer on the film -said Houston's role in the movie, in which she plays a singer trying to raise her children in the church so they avoid some of the mistakes she made during her career, should be an uplifting moment.
"I think that people are really going to be inspired by the 'Sparkle' story because it is an opportunity to see that sometimes dreams really do come true if you're committed to them, if you're relentless," he said.
Actress and singer Bre'ly Evans still remembers the advice Houston gave her on the set of the movie. Evans plays the best friend of Sparkle, played by Jordin Sparks. Evans said Houston asked to have lunch with her one day and advised her "to use all of your gifts that God gave you."
Before that, Evans said she had just focused on her acting, but Houston inspired her to sing more.
"She made a point to deposit something great in me," said Evans. "That's inspired me to reach out to producers about my singing."
Jakes says Houston's portrayal and her untimely death underscores the need for people to get help and turn their lives around before it's too late.
"You're going to make mistakes, but we can learn from each other, and we can share with each other," Jakes said.