Nafessa Williams
(Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)

Nafessa Williams Joins Naomi Ackie in TriStar’s Whitney Houston Biopic

According to Deadline, TriStar Pictures has officially enlisted Nafessa Williams (Black Lightning) to portray the role of Robyn Crawford in the upcoming Whitney Houston biopic, I Wanna Dance With Somebody. Emmy nominee Moses Ingram (The Queen’s Gambit) was previously attached for the role. Crawford was Houston’s longtime assistant and creative director.

In addition, Clarke Peters (Da 5 Bloods) and Tony winner Tamara Tunie have also been cast to join the Naomi Ackie-led project. They will be playing Houston’s parents, John and Cissy Houston.

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I Wanna Dance With Somebody, a title derived from one of Houston’s iconic songs, will be directed by Kasi Lemmons (Harriet) from a screenplay written by Anthony McCarten (Bohemian Rhapsody). Starring Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston, Ashton Sanders as Bobby Brown, and Stanley Tucci as Clive Davis, the film will take audiences on an emotional, energetic journey through the legendary Grammy-winning singer’s career and music.

The film is currently slated to arrive in theaters in Thanksgiving 2022. Producers are McCarten, Grammy-winning producer Clive Davis, Pat Houston, and Primary Wave’s Larry Mester & Denis O’Sullivan, with Stella Meghie (The Photograph), who was previously attached to direct, still serving as an executive producer.

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I Wanna Dance With Somebody is a co-production by The Whitney Houston Estate and Primary Wave. 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 on behalf of TriStar Pictures. Black Label Media has also signed on to serve as a co-financier with Compelling Pictures and Primary Wave Musical.


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