Whitney Houston is getting the official biopic treatment. Her estate, producer Clive Davis, and Primary Wave Music have signed off on a feature film portraying the late singer's life and iconic music, Deadline reported. The working title? I Wanna Dance with Somebody, named after Houston's famous 1987 hit. At the moment, the film is set for a Thanksgiving 2022 release. Here's what we know about the project so far.
Naomi Ackie will star as Whitney.
The British actress is best known for her role of Jannah in the Star Wars film, The Rise of Skywalker. She also plays Bonnie in The End of the F***ing World and Hazel in Steve McQueen's Small Axe. Ackie was also set to appear in the nixed Game of Thrones prequel series about the Age of Heroes.
“We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston," director Stella Meghie said, per The Hollywood Reporter. "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."
Others on the team have high praise for Ackie. Producer Clive Davis said her screen test was "was so powerful, it sent shivers up my spine," according to THR. Whitney's sister-in-law Pat Houston said Ackie "was selected based on her quality performances and her deep commitment to emerging into the woman that we all loved."
Stella Meghie is directing.
Deadline reported that Stella Meghie, who directed 2020's The Photograph starring Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield, is helming the biopic.
Screenwriter Anthony McCarten is writing the script and producing. Well-versed in biopic films, his credits include The Two Popes, Darkest Hour, Bohemian Rhapsody, and The Theory of Everything, which all either won Oscars or earned nods.
The singer's sister-in-law and manager, Pat Houston, will be producing the film. She was previously involved with the 2018 Whitney documentary, as she allowed Oscar-winning documentarian Kevin Macdonald access to the star's archive.
The story will be a celebration of Houston's life.
As for the plot, producers told Deadline that they aim to make a "joyous, emotional and heart-breaking celebration of the life and music of the greatest female R&B pop vocalist of all time, tracking her journey from obscurity to musical superstardom. While being very frank about the price that super-stardom exacted, it will be both the rich and complex saga of the search for the perfect marriage between song and singer and audience, and at the same time the moving tale of a simple Jersey girl trying to find her way back home."
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