Naomi Ackie Cast as Whitney Houston in I Wanna Dance with Somebody Biopic
Filmmakers for the Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody have found their star.
Naomi Ackie has been tasked with taking on the role of the music legend in the upcoming film, which is currently slated for a Thanksgiving 2022 release, according to Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter, who was first to report that she was in final negotiations for the part.
The movie will be written by Anthony McCarten — the screenwriter behind the 2018's Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody — and directed by Stella Meghie, who previously helmed The Photograph and Everything, Everything.
"We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston," Meghie said in a statement in a statement to the outlet. "Naomi Ackie impressed us at every stage of the process. I was moved by her ability to capture the stage presence of a global icon while bringing humanity to her interior life."
"All Whitney fans have an appetite for perfection when it comes to Whitney and her legacy," Houston's sister-in-law and former manager Pat Houston, who will produce the film on behalf of the Houston Estate, added in her own statement.
"To transform someone into a matchless icon is virtually impossible. But with careful consideration, Naomi Ackie was selected based on her quality performances and her deep commitment to emerging into the woman that we all loved. We look forward to taking this journey with her," she said.
Producer Clive Davis will also be producing, along with Larry Mestel, Denis O’Sullivan, Jeff Kalligheri and McCarten.
"Naomi Ackie’s screen test was so powerful, it sent shivers up my spine," Davis said. "Although Whitney’s incomparable vocals are used for all the songs, Naomi's extraordinary acting range enables her to masterfully capture Whitney’s unique charm, star power, and, of course, her personal struggles. Naomi is the real deal and I can’t imagine a better choice for this iconic role."
Ackie's past film credits include Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The Corrupted, Yardie and Lady Macbeth.
The 28-year-old actress has also appeared in TV series such as Doctor Who and The End of the F***king World, for which she recently won a BAFTA Award earlier this year.
I Wanna Dance with Somebody will be "very frank about the price that super-stardom exacted" while also being "the moving tale of a simple Jersey girl trying to find her way back home," according to a previous a press release for the film.
A previous Houston biopic, Whitney, was released on Lifetime in 2015 with America’s Next Top Model alumna Yaya DaCosta playing the singer.
A BET miniseries, The Bobby Brown Story, debuted in 2018 with Gabrielle Dennis taking on the role of Houston.
Houston died on Feb. 11, 2012 at the age of 48 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel due to an accidental drowning.
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