I Wanna Dance with Somebody: release date, trailer, cast and everything we know about the Whitney Houston biopic

·4 min read
  Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston in the movie poster for I Wanna Dance with Somebody
Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston in the movie poster for I Wanna Dance with Somebody

Before artists like Beyoncé and Adele were dominating the charts and selling out tours, there was arguably one person that reigned as music’s queen and that was Whitney Houston. Now over ten years since her unfortunate passing, the world braces itself to relive some of the singer’s most memorable moments and unfortunate lows in the musical biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody.

Now for those counting, there have been at least three projects about the singer that have either made their way to television or the movie theater since her untimely death. This list includes the Lifetime biopic Whitney (2015), the British-American documentary Whitney: Can I Be Me (2017) and the highly controversial documentary Whitney (2018).

While it’s yet to be seen how the upcoming film differentiates itself from previous films outside of its genre and perhaps distribution method, we can say that unlike the other works mentioned, I Wanna Dance with Somebody has longtime Houston collaborator and friend Clive Davis attached as a producer. Additionally, Whitney’s sister-in-law Pat Houston also serves as a producer on the film, although she previously produced the 2018 documentary, Whitney.

Here’s everything we know about I Wanna Dance with Somebody.

When is the I Wanna Dance with Somebody release date?

I Wanna Dance with Somebody aims for a holiday release, premiering in the US on Wednesday, December 21 in theaters. As we get closer to the premiere date, you can check sites like Fandango to see where the film is playing near you.

Would-be viewers in the UK will have to wait slightly longer to watch the movie as it won’t debut in cinemas until Friday, December 23.

I Wanna Dance with Somebody cast

Stepping up to fill the big shoes of playing Whitney Houston in I Wanna Dance with Somebody is actress Naomi Ackie. Ackie has previously starred as Alicia in Master of None, as Bonnie in The End of the F***ing World and as Jannah in Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker. Speaking on the subject of her role as Houston, Ackie told  Deadline:

"Preparing to play Whitney Houston has been an incredible experience. I’ve learned so much more about her and myself than I could have imagined. I’m so excited to get on that film set and honor her legacy!"

Also in I Wanna Dance with Somebody as superstar music exec Clive Davis is Stanley Tucci. Tucci is a widely celebrated entertainer known for such roles as Jack Warner in Feud, Caesar Flickerman in The Hunger Games movies and Nigel in The Devil Wears Prada. Most recently, he’s been keeping busy as host of the Emmy-winning series Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.

Rounding out the rest of the main cast are the following:

  • Ashton Sanders (Moonlight) as Bobby Brown

  • Tamara Tunie (Law and Order: SVU) as Cissy Houston

  • Nafessa Williams (Black Lightning) as Robyn Crawford

  • Clarke Peters (Da 5 Bloods) as John Houston

What is I Wanna Dance with Somebody about?

Whitney Houston sitting in the window for a 1990 VH1 interview
Whitney Houston sitting in the window for a 1990 VH1 interview

Film distribution company Sony Pictures describes the movie’s synopsis as the following:

I Wanna Dance with Somebody is an upcoming feature about the late musical icon, Whitney Houston. Naomi Ackie stars as Whitney Houston in the musical biopic, which is based on the epic life and music of the iconic singer. Directed by Kasi Lemmons and written by Academy Award Nominee Anthony McCarten, the film will take audiences on an emotional, energetic journey through Houston’s career and music.”

I Wanna Dance with Somebody trailer

It's here! The official trailer has been released and most Whitney fans will certainly get excited to see the movie in theaters after watching the clip.

Are Whitney Houston's vocals used in I Wanna Dance with Somebody?

For those wondering if Whitney Houston's legendary voice will be featured in the film, the answer is yes. Referring to lead actress Naomi Ackie, Clive Davis mentioned in a statement captured on the Complex site:

"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 writer

With Oscar nominee Anthony McCarten credited as the film’s writer, potential viewers of I Wanna Dance with Somebody should anticipate good things. McCarten has previously penned scripts for critically-raved-about movies including Darkest Hour, The Two Popes, The Theory of Everything and the musical biopic of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury's life, Bohemian Rhapsody.

I Wanna Dance with Somebody director

Bringing her years of experience to film is director Kasi Lemmons. Lemmons has previously directed films like Harriet, Eve’s Bayou and Black Nativity.