Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker actress Naomi Ackie to portray Whitney Houston in the biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody from Sony and its TriStar division. 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.
Stella Meghie is directing the biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody based on a script Anthony McCarten wrote. And after a worldwide search, Meghie chose the British actress.
“We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston,” Meghie said in a statement. “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.”
McCarten’s Muse of Fire Productions and legendary music producer Clive Davis are producing the picture.
“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, Davis said. “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.”
Pat Houston is also producing on behalf of the Houston estate. She spoke highly of Ackie stating:
“All Whitney fans have an appetite for perfection when it comes to Whitney and her legacy. 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.”
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.
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 consent of the Houston estate and thus was not able to reproduce all the hit singles in the multi-award-winning singer’s canon.
The movie is set for a Thanksgiving 2022 release.