I Wanna Dance With Somebody: Naomi Ackie Nabs Whitney Houston Role in New Biopic
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker actress Naomi Ackie has been tapped to portray the role of Whitney Houston in Academy Award-winning screenwriter Anthony McCarten’s newest biographical film I Wanna Dance With Somebody, centered around the life of the legendary singer. Set to be directed by The Photograph’s Stella Meghie, the film is expected to be released by Sony and TriStar in Thanksgiving 2022.
“We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston,” Meghie said. “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.”
“Naomi Ackie’s screen test was so powerful, it sent shivers up my spine,” Clive 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.”
After 7 studio albums, 6 Grammy wins, 9 world tours, and countless memorable hit songs later, Whitney Houston is still regarded as one of the most iconic and influential artists of all time. Even after her untimely death eight years ago at the age of 48, her legacy continues to live on through all of the old and new singers she had inspired by her immense talent and music. She had also earned the title of most awarded female artist of all time by the Guinness World Records and is still one of the best-selling music artists of all time with 200 million records sold worldwide.
Houston is also best known for her acting debut film, The Bodyguard starring alongside Kevin Costner which had become the second highest-grossing film worldwide in 1992 and its soundtrack also became the best-selling soundtrack album of all time with the song “I Will Always Love You.” Her other notable film credits include: Forest Whitaker’s 1995 romance film Waiting to Exhale; Penny Marshall’s The Preacher’s Wife opposite Denzel Washington; and the Disney musical TV film, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella which had earned 7 Emmy nominations.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody, a title derived from one of Houston’s iconic songs, will be produced by Grammy-winning producer Clive Davis, the one who had helped Houston signed her first record deal at Arista Records when she was 19 years old. The film is a co-production by The Whitney Houston Estate and Primary Wave. Pat Houston, the late singer’s former manager and sister-in-law, will also serve as a producer along with Primary Wave’s Larry Mester and Denis O’Sullivan.
Due to the blessing of Houston’s estate and Davis, the project has been authorized to use the late singer’s catalog and vocals. Nicole Brown, Shary Shirazi, and Brittany Morrissey are also set to oversee the project in behalf of TriStar Pictures.
Anthony McCarten, the writer behind the critically-acclaimed biopics such as The Theory of Everything, Darkest Hour, Bohemian Rhapsody and the upcoming Bee Gees biopic, will also be writing the script for the Whitney Houston biopic and will be producing through his Muse of Fire Productions banner.