FIRST LOOK: Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks in 'Sparkle'

See the first photo of the two singers, who play a mother and daughter in the film about the rise and fall of a fictional '60s girl group

Remember when Whitney Houston was an actress? Long before that disastrous reality show with ex Bobby Brown, Houston showed off her star wattage in three big-screen hits: The Bodyguard (1992), Waiting to Exhale (1995) and The Preacher's Wife (1996). Now for the first time in 15 years, she's returning to the movies, costarring with American Idol winner Jordin Sparks in the song-fueled drama Sparkle. See the first photo from the film above!

"She was so cool and very motherly toward me," Sparks, 22, tells People of working with Houston, 48. "If I ever looked like I needed something, here she came saying, 'Are you okay?'"

Sparks plays the title character in Sparkle, a remake of a 1976 film starring Irene Cara. The film follows a fictional '60s girl group (loosely based on The Supremes), composed of three sisters who rise to fame with the help of their hard-working mother (Houston). In the end, the temptations of fame destroy the group, with only Sparkle emerging from the wreckage unscathed.

The film must strike a bittersweet note for Houston, who has very publicly had her own struggles with the issues that the singers face in the film (including drug addiction and an abusive relationship). But for Sparks, who is making her film debut, working with Houston was a childhood dream realized.

"I sang her songs into a hairbrush when I was little," the newly svelte Sparks tells People. "Now she's acting as my mom and scolding me. It was a dream come true."

It's been a rough few years for Houston, whose most recent stint in rehab was this past spring. Yet you wouldn't know it from this first official photo, in which Houston looks as radiant as she did in the '90s. Maybe working with a young talent like Sparks has reminded her why she loved show business in the first place! Hopefully Sparkle, which is set to hit theaters Aug. 10, is the start of a new chapter for the legendary singer.

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