The story of Whitney Houston, one of our greatest musicians who’s ever lived, will be told on the big screen in the upcoming biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody, the title of which is, of course, inspired by one of her greatest songs. We’ve known the writer and director behind this drama, but now, we know who will play Houston herself. Per Variety, Naomi Ackie will inhabit Whitney Houston for the film — and she is an awesome choice.
I most recently saw Ackie as Jannah in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and while the rest of that film is, well, “not the best”, Ackie immediately stole the screen with her presence, her confidence, and her command of the language of screen acting; her final moments seem to hint at a Jannah-centered spinoff in the Star Wars universe, and I am ready for it. Beyond this role, Ackie has given excellent, barn-burning turns in The End of the F***ing World and Lady Macbeth, and is also starring in the upcoming crime thriller The Score which looks exactly made for me. Ackie is a wonderful choice to communicate such an interesting life story.
But don’t take my word for it! Here’s what director Stella Meghie (The Photograph) had to say about Ackie playing Houston: “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.” And producer Clive Davis, the mega-music producer behind much of Houston‘s career, said this: “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, 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 will be written by Anthony McCarten, who wrote the screenplay for Bohemian Rhapsody which garnered Rami Malek an Oscar win for the leading role of Freddie Mercury. Based on the buzz behind Ackie‘s work on Houston thus far — and the sterling quality of her previous work — she might have an Oscar speech she needs to start preparing, too.