LOS ANGELES -- For Jordin Sparks, starring in in the remake of the 1976 film "Sparkle" has been a blessing.
The film tells the the story of a young, shy woman who finally gets the chance to show her singing abilities and becomes a star.
"There was a lot of me in that character," Sparks says.
Life moved fast for Sparks after she became the youngest winner of "American Idol" a half decade ago. There have been two albums, a turn on Broadway for "In the Heights" and guest starring roles on a few TV shows. It's all lead up to her starring in "Sparkle," which is Whitney Houston's last film.
Not only did Sparks get a chance to work with one of her idols, being cast in "Sparkle" came at a time when her business life had stalled. Her record label was going through transitions, she parted ways with her management team and she was dealing with some family issues.
Things are good now, and Sparks never had any doubts she would get through it all.
"My faith has played a huge part in the huge decision I make and to be able to face certain situations," Sparks says. "It's because of my family. My mom is so funny. There are times when I'll accomplish something and she's like 'You're not that great.' And she pops that balloon.
"There's always been something in me to not give up. 'Giving up' is not in my vocabulary."
When "Sparkle" came along, Sparks knew it was an opportunity to get music out to her fans, along with landing a starring role.
When Sparks was cast, Houston had not yet been cast to play her mother. All Sparks had heard was that Houston was one of the executive producers.
After Houston was cast, Sparks was just happy that she might have the chance to occasionally talk with the singer on the set.
"There was already a lot of pressure because I didn't have a lot of experience. I had never done a movie before," Sparks says. "Then they said Whitney signed on to play the mom, and there was a hundred more pounds of pressure."
Sparks spent extra time with Houston on set.
"She was always asking if I was OK. She was very kind and very giving," Sparks says.
Their bond was so close that when Sparks performed Houston's "I Will Always Love You" at the Billboard Awards earlier this year, Sparks could hear Houston's voice telling her, "You got this."
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org
or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.