Naomi Ackie to Play Whitney Houston in New Biopic, 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody'

Annie Goldsmith
·3 min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Town & Country

In the past few years, the musical icon biopic—a distinct sub-genre of films, which are often titled after one of the subject's songs—has come into vogue. Bohemian Rhapsody, about Queen's Freddy Mercury, and Rocketman, about Elton John, are two notable examples. Now, a much-anticipated Whitney Houston movie will be added to the group.

I Wanna Dance With Somebody is being produced in collaboration with Houston's estate, allowing the filmmakers to reproduce all of Houston's hit songs. An all-star team is behind the picture, including producers Clive Davis, a music industry legend, and Pat Houston, Whitney's sister-in-law and former manager.

Here, find all the information about the upcoming movie.

Naomi Ackie will play Whitney Houston.

After a worldwide search, the team behind I Wanna Dance With Somebody finally landed on their star. The BAFTA winner is best known for her roles in Netflix’s The End of the F***ing World and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

"We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston," said director Stella Meghie, 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."

Photo credit: Barcroft Media - Getty Images
Photo credit: Barcroft Media - Getty Images

Ackie also earned praise from producer Clive Davis, who worked with Whitney Houston throughout her career.

"Naomi Ackie’s screen test was so powerful, it sent shivers up my spine. 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," Davis said, via THR. "Naomi is the real deal and I can’t imagine a better choice for this iconic role."

Pat Houston, too, applauded the casting decision, and supports Ackie in playing her late sister-in-law.

"All Whitney fans have an appetite for perfection when it comes to Whitney and her legacy," Houston said. "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."

Photo credit: Kevin Winter - Getty Images
Photo credit: Kevin Winter - Getty Images

An impressive team is working behind the scenes.

Alongside Davis and Pat Houston, Sony TriStar assembled a skilled group to put the film together, headed up by director Stella Meghie. Known for The Photograph and Everything, Everything,this will be the Canadian filmmaker's biggest feature to date.

Oscar nominee Anthony McCarten, who wrote the screenplay for 2018's Freddie Mercury biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, is attached to pen the script. According to People, the story of I Wanna Dance With Somebody will be "very frank about the price that super-stardom exacted" while also being "the moving tale of a simple Jersey girl trying to find her way back home."

The movie is slated for a Thanksgiving 2022 release.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, there's still a ways to go before we'll be seeing the feature. But that just means you have plenty of time to listen to the six-time Grammy winner's musical oeuvre in preparation.

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