Nafessa Williams joins the cast of the Whitney Houston biopic, I Wanna Dance With Somebody for Sony and its TriStar division. She will replace Moses Ingram as Houston’s longtime assistant Robyn Crawford. Crawford later became Houston’s creative director while also remaining one of her closest friends. Ingram recently parted ways with the role.
She joins the cast that includes Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston and Ashton Sanders who will play Bobby Brown. Clarke Peters and Tamara Tunie have also been recently cast as John and Cissy Houston.
Kasi Lemmons is taking over as director. The Photograph director Stella Meghie was originally attached to helm I Wanna Dance with Somebody and while she won’t direct anymore she will stay on as executive producer. Anthony McCarten penned the screenplay which will take audiences on an emotional, energetic journey through Houston’s career and music.
The project is being made with the blessing of the Houston estate. That means that the estate has signed off on the screenplay, which grants the film to reproduce all the Houston hits.
McCarten’s Muse of Fire Productions and legendary music producer Clive Davis are producing the Whitney Houston biopic alongside Pat Houston, who is also producing on behalf of the Houston estate.
Larry Mestel on behalf of Primary Wave Music and Denis O’Sullivan and Jeff Kalligheri are also financing via Compelling Pictures. Nicole Brown, Shary Shirazi, and Brittany Morrissey will oversee the project for TriStar Pictures. Molly Smith, Trent and Thad Luckinbill will produce for Black Label Media, with Black Label’s Rachel Smith and Seth Spector executive producing.
Primary Wave Music is a partner of the Whitney Houston estate. The key with this Houston project is that the estate has signed off on the screenplay, which grants the film to reproduce all the Houston hits. Such was key with getting Bohemian Rhapsody off the ground. Lifetime’s 2014 TV movie Whitney, directed by Angela Bassett, didn’t have the consent of the Houston estate and thus was not able to reproduce all the hit singles in the multi-award-winning singer’s canon.
Sony and TriStar Pictures will release the film in theaters on December 23, 2022.
Houston is the most awarded female music artist of all time and is one of the bestselling recording artists of all time, selling more than 200 million records worldwide. Houston won six Grammys, 16 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards and two Emmys, among other honors. Houston made her acting debut with the romantic thriller film The Bodyguard and recorded six songs for the film’s soundtrack, including “I Will Always Love You.” The song won the Grammy for Record of the Year and became the bestselling physical single by a woman in music history. The soundtrack album won the Grammy for Album of the Year and remains the bestelsling soundtrack album in history. In 2020, Whitney was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and became the first Black artist to have 3 RIAA Diamond Awards.