Having sent shivers down our spine for her performance in Steve McQueen’s anthology series Small Axe as Hazel, British actress Naomi Ackie has been cast to play the late Whitney Houston in a new film about the legend’s life. Titled I Wanna Dance With Somebody, the film will be scripted by Bohemian Rhapsody writer Anthony McCarten. The 28-year-old east Londoner who won a BAFTA earlier this year for her performance in Chanel 4 series The End of the F***ing World, stunned director Stella Meghie in her audition. In a statement to Variety, the director said, “We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston. 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.”
Houston, who died in 2012, worked closely with music mogul Clive Davis over the years, and he is one of the producers on the new film. Commenting on Ackie’s screen test, the mogul said, “It was so powerful, Naomi is the real deal and I can’t imagine a better choice for this iconic role. Naomi’s extraordinary acting range enables her to masterfully capture Whitney’s unique charm, star power and, of course, her personal struggle” With no other role cast for this film, we’ll be sure to keep you updated as more castings are set.
We are watching this space very closely indeed.