Behind the Costumes for Nat Geo’s TV Show Genius: Aretha

In the series, one moment that stood out was when Time magazine was profiling Franklin, and even though she puts in all this effort to control the way she’s perceived, the profile ends up being extremely negative. With her costumes around this moment, did you feel the need to show how, through clothing, Franklin was constantly conscious of how others perceive her and how respectability politics may have influenced her style? 

Yes, I did because there’s a line within the show where Aretha and her sister are talking about their careers and if they’re ever going to break into the industry, and she says, “As long as we feel good, we look good,” and that resonated with me. It was like she was so desperately wanting to feel good about everything she was doing, the sacrifices she was making to share her talents with the world, and back then, it was challenging to break into the industry. Now, people get agents, but it was rare for Black people to get on a national cover of a magazine.

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