Published on April 23, 2012 by Sonya's Spotlight
L to R. Sparkle cast and Crew producer, Debra Martin Chase, Taki Sumpter, Jordin Sparks, Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd, co-producer Mara Brock Akil.


Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd once again casts up and coming actors season 6 American Idol winner Jordin Sparks and The Voice’s celebrity judge Cee-Lo Green in Sparkle, helping them cross over from music to film 

Casting Director Tracy "Twinkie" Byrd

Jumping the Broom, Notorious and Stomp the Yard casting director, Tracy “Twinkie” Byrd works her magic again with the upcoming film Sparkle starring the late Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks Mike Epps (The Hangover, Next Friday), Cee-Lo Green (The Voice, Kang Fu Panda soundtrack) and the acting debut of season 6 American Idol winner, Jordin Sparks.

 Byrd’s knack for casting the hottest and most talented entertainers continues to make her stand out from her peers. Not only did she cast Jordin Sparks and Cee-Lo Green, who will be making their big screen debut in Sparkle, but her genius showed in Jumping the Broom by casting Paula Patton and Laz Alonso who went on to win the 2012 NAACP Image Award for the Leading Man in a Movie.  Byrd became “notorious” after casting Jamal Woolard, Angela Basset, Derek Luke and Anthony Mackie for the Fox Searchlight film Notorious.  Her eye for spotting talent was crucial for casting Stomp the Yard and Stomp The Yard: Homecoming, and she didn’t disappoint with Grammy award winner Chris Brown, Grammy nominated artist Ne-Yo, Harry Lennix, Laz Alonso and Colombus Short.

Byrd’s most recent project Sparkle is the story of three sisters that form a successful singing group while dealing with fame and drugs.  Though Jordin Sparks is expected to turn heads with her first lead role performance in the film, this was Whitney Houston’s last performance and it is being hailed as phenomenal. Houston’s role was said to compliment her next musical release.  Sparks said Houston, “went from being this unreachable supernova pop star to my co-star, friend and someone who was like a mentor to me.  It was a gift and an honor to play opposite Whitney Houston in the film.” Houston and Sparkle fans are overjoyed that the film will finally be hitting theaters on August 10th.  The women behind the scenes of Sparkle are producer, Debra Martin Chase, known for giving Whitney Houston her role in the TV movie Cinderella and writer and co-producer Mara Brock Akil, best known for the TV Series Girlfriends.

Today, Byrd is known as the “diamond finder of new talent” for bringing such now known actors as Michael Kenneth Williams (Boardwalk Empire), Naturi Naughton (Notorious, The Playboy Club), Columbus Short (The Girl is in Trouble, Scandal, Stomp the Yard), Laz Alonso (Jumping the Broom, Avatar) and too many other Diamond’s to name with security not being present!

Byrd’s career started over a decade ago with casting music videos for Madonna, Black Eyed Peas, Outkast, Fall Out Boy and Blink 182.  Byrd then set her sights on feature films both theatrical and television and has never looked back. With Byrd’s unparalleled success in music, television, and film, she is rightfully considered one of the best casting directors in the business.

Her upcoming 2012 projects include the feature film Filly Brown and BET’s Being Mary Jane.  She is currently casting Fruitvale with Octavia Spencer, Michael B. Jordan and Tristan Wilds for the Sundance Lab 2013.

 Twinkie’s Tips for Actors wanting to be cast in a Principal Role:

Casting Director, Tracy "Twinkie" Byrd.

“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Be thankful for each job that you get. If you rush, you may end up somewhere that you’re not prepated to be. All things are preparing you for that breakthrough. Sometimes people want things to happen quickly. It’s not a lottery. It’s not like a scratch off and win. It should be your passion . . .  so theatre matters, commercials matter, short films matter – everything matters. Everything. So, stop looking for that lead role. Be around those who are the lead. Support them in your performance. Sometimes that supporting character ends up standing out more than the person who is in every scene. Stop looking at everything as small. There is nothing small. Like a baby, work at your steps and build your relationships and get on the set and build your experiences.” TWINKIE



“Sparkle” tells the story of the title character; Sparkle, (Jordin Sparks) the youngest of three sisters and a music prodigy who struggles to becomes a star while overcoming issues that are tearing her family apart. Sparkle is from an affluent Detroit area, naive to the unexpected experiences her new life will bring as she and her two sisters blossom into a dynamic singing group during the Motown-era.  Whitney Houston will play the trio’s mother (Emma). Mike Epps plays a wealthy comedian named Satin, who woos Sparkle’s sister into a drug-filled abusive relationship on their way to the top. During her journey, Sparkle endures the trials and tribulations of fame but fights to rise through the ranks of the music business. “Sparkle” is set in the late 1960s when Detroit was the music mecca of America.


This article featured in: Movie News


  1. Diane Robinson says:

    I hope you can help. I was and extra in Sparkle several scenes, I was wondering have you heard anything about a first screening or a Red Carpet going on were we may participate.I’ve been unable to contact anyone.

  2. Diane Robinson says:

    Also, I love acting. I think it’s my calling, I figured it out late. I would love to be informed of any auditions being held that you may be casting for. I really would appreciate any help or advice.I believe I’m good and raw talent I just need the chance of opportunity.

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