Naomi Ackie is taking on the role of Whitney Houston in an upcoming biopic about the legendary singer’s life.
On Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that the British actress is starring in “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” — named after Whitney’s iconic 1987 song.
“We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston,” film director Stella 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.”
Known for her role in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” Ackie also appeared in an episode of “Doctor Who” and the dark comedy-drama “The End of the ------- World.”
The project — which will use the late singer’s song catalog, including her vocals — is produced by Whitney’s sister-in-law Pat Houston, music producer Clive Davis, Anthony McCarten (who also wrote the screenplay), and Larry Mestel for Primary Wave Music, which is a partner of the Whitney Houston estate.
Additionally, Nicole Brown, Shary Shirazi, and Brittany Morrissey will oversee the project for TriStar Pictures.
“All Whitney fans have an appetite for perfection when it comes to Whitney and her legacy,” Pat said in a statement. “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.”
“Naomi Ackie’s screen test was so powerful, it sent shivers up my spine,” Clive added. “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.”
The film is scheduled to be released on Thanksgiving 2022.