After a worldwide search, British actress and Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker star Naomi Ackie has been tapped to play Whitney Houston in the upcoming estate-backed biopic, I Wanna Dance with Somebody. The Photograph director Stella Meghie will helm the pic from Sony's TriStar.
The movie is currently set for November 2022 release. Anthony McCarten, the screenwriter of Bohemian Rhapsody, is the writer.
Pat Houston, Houston's sister-in-law, will produce the film for the Houston Estate alongside Davis, McCartin, Denis O'Sullivan, and Larry Mestel of Primary Wave Music. Houston has been the subject of film and television before, however, none of these projects were authorized by the Houston Estate. This means that Houston's entire catalog of songs will be available for use in the film.
“We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston," said Meghie in the exclusive report from 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."
“Naomi Ackie’s screen test was so powerful, it sent shivers up my spine," said Clive Davis. "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.”
"All Whitney fans have an appetite for perfection when it comes to Whitney and her legacy," said Pat Houston. "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."