Sony’s upcoming Whitney Houston biopic, I Wanna Dance with Somebody, has finally found its leading star. English actress Naomi Ackie is in “final negotiations” to play the late legendary singer, according to Variety.
The 28-year-old Ackie recently earned a BAFTA for her acclaimed performance in the Netflix comedy-drama The End of the F***ing World. She’s also scored major screen time in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and the British anthology series Small Axe from Steve McQueen, whom we recently named our Filmmaker of the Year.
Together with director Stella Meghie (The Photograph) and screenwriter Anthony McCarten (Bohemian Rhapsody), Ackie will tell the complex yet inspiring story of Whitney Houston, actress, powerhouse vocalist, and pop culture icon. And she’ll have the blessing of Houston’s family, too — the Estate has signed off on the film and will serve as one of its producers.
“We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston,” Meghie commented 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.”
Pat Houston, who is producing on behalf of the Houston Estate, offered similar praise for Ackie. “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.”
Clive Davis, music industry veteran and one of Houston’s mentors, is also on the production team for I Wanna Dance with Somebody. He described Ackie’s screen test as “so powerful, it sent shivers up my spine.”
I Wanna Dance with Somebody is expected to be released by Sony on Thanksgiving 2022. Find a fuller film synopsis below, followed by Houston’s timeless 1987 hit of the same name.
I Wanna Dance with Somebody is “a joyous, emotional and heart-breaking celebration of the life and music of the greatest female R&B pop vocalist of all time, tracking her journey from obscurity to musical superstardom. While being very frank about the price that super-stardom exacted, it will be both the rich and complex saga of the search for the perfect marriage between song and singer and audience, and at the same time the moving tale of a simple Jersey girl trying to find her way back home.”