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Fantasia to Star as Gospel Queen Mahalia Jackson in Biopic

Wire image | Getty

Former ‘American Idol‘ champ Fantasia Barrino is set to star in a biopic about late New Orleans gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and in preparation for her role, she’s going to have to pack on 30 to 45 lbs.

Adapted from the book, ‘Got to Tell It: Mahalia Jackson, Queen of Gospel,’ the feature film will tell the story of one of the most influential gospel singers in the world. Jackson came from an impoverished background in New Orleans, where she began singing at her local baptist church. In her teens she moved to Chicago, where she launched her recording career that spanned five decades and included 30 albums. An impassioned civil rights activist and an early supporter of Martin Luther King, Jackson won four Grammys and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before her death in 1972, at the age of 60.

Although Fantasia was recently beat out by Oscar winner Halle Berry for the chance to portray Aretha Franklin in an upcoming film, she is no stranger to biopics. The 26-year-old played herself in a 2006 Lifetime movie, ‘Life Is Not a Fairy Tale: The Fantasia Barrino Story,’ depicting her own tumultuous past. She also starred in Broadway production of ‘The Color Purple’ and has a new hit reality show, ‘For Real,’ on VH1. Her album ‘Back to Me,’ led by the single ‘Bittersweet,’ debuted at no. 2 on the Billboard 200 upon its release last August.

The film, directed by Euzhan Palcy, is set to begin production this April in Pittsburgh and Chicago.

Watch Fantasia Perform ‘Bittersweet’ at AOL Sessions

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