British actress Naomi Ackie has been recruited to play the legendary Whitney Houston in Sony’s forthcoming biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody.
The Photograph director Stella Meghie is set to helm the project, with a screenplay penned by Bohemian Rhapsody writer Anthony McCarten.
“We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston. 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,” Meghie told Variety.
Ackie is best known for her role on Netflix’s The End of the F***Ing World. She’s also starred in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Steve McQueen’s anthology series Small Axe.
“Naomi Ackie’s screen test was so powerful, it sent shivers up my spine,” producer Clive Davis told Variety. “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 follows Houston’s life and rise to fame, with iconic hits like "I Will Always Love You" and "I’m Every Woman." Pat Houston previously suggested that Taraji P. Henson should take on the role of her late sister, who passed away in 2012.
The musical I Wanna Dance With Somebody is set to release Thanksgiving week of 2022.