The first authorized Whitney Houston biopic has found its leading lady.
According to Variety, Naomi Ackie (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) has been cast as Whitney, the iconic songstress known as “The Voice” who tragically died in February 2012.
Back in April, it was announced that Stella Meghie (The Photograph) would be directing the authorized biopic produced by Pat Houston, the late singer’s sister-in-law who also managed her. Anthony McCarten (Bohemian Rhapsody) penned the screenplay.
“We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston. 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,” Meghie said in a statement.
Ackie recently won this year’s Supporting Actress BAFTA TV Award for her role in Netflix’s The End of the Fucking World. She also co-starred in Education, one of the films from Steve McQueen’s acclaimed anthology series, Small Axe. She is also set to star in the heist musical The Score.
“All Whitney fans have an appetite for perfection when it comes to Whitney and her legacy,” Pat said in a 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.”
“Naomi Ackie’s screen test was so powerful, it sent shivers up my spine,” Clive Davis, who is also producing the film, said in a statement. “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.”
I Wanna Dance With Somebody is scheduled to be released on Thanksgiving in 2022.