Director Liesl became the first black woman to earn a Tony Award nomination for best direction of a play for 2016's Eclipsed.
She said in a statement: “The story of Aretha Franklin’s journey from child prodigy in Detroit to international supernova is rife with struggle and triumph, making her life one of the great American stories of all time."
Oscar-winning Dreamgirls star Jennifer Hudson - currently working in the UK on the new series of The Voice - was apparently handpicked by Aretha herself for the role, before her death in August last year, aged 76.
Hudson performed an emotional rendition of Amazing Grace at Aretha's funeral (see above) in Detroit; where other performers included Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Ariana Grande.
We reported on it live at the time and you can relive the event as it happened.
Another Academy Award winner is involved in the new biopic in the form of Thelma & Louise screenwriter Callie Khouri.