"It's been fun to share it with them because I'll only have one first premiere," she said.
"Sparkle" is a remake of a 1976 film, and it was to be Whitney Houston's movie comeback, playing the supporting role of a cautious and sometimes overprotective mother.
"Any good work that's on the screen from any of us is in great part due to Whitney's willingness to see that we all shined in this moment," said Carmen Ejogo.
Among those at the premiere was one of the stars of the original movie.
"I think that it's important to welcome the new but not to forget the building blocks," said Dwan Smith.
Many stars at the premiere knew Houston and wanted to be there in her honor.
"She was my baby. She was my baby and I know she did a good job," said Jenifer Lewis.
Others were excited to see her performance, but also felt the loss.
"I heard she's brilliant in this so I'm so excited. But it makes it an even greater loss, you know?" said Loretta Devine.
"Sparkle" opens Friday.