Naomi Ackie lands role of Whitney Houston in Sony TriStar’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody biopic

Naomi Ackie has landed the starring role as Whitney Houston in Sony/TriStar’s upcoming musical biopic, I Wanna Dance With Somebody, according to Deadline.

The 28-year-old star, best known for her role as Jannah in 2019’s Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker, will be a part of a ‘no holds barred’ look on the late icon’s life and legacy.      

‘We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston,’ the Toronto-born, L.A.-based director director, Stella Meghie, said of the casting in a statement to the outlet.

Playing an icon: Naomi Ackie is in final negotiations to star as Whitney Houston in Sony/TriStar's upcoming musical biopic, I Wanna Dance With Somebody, according to Deadline (pictured in 2020)

Playing an icon: Naomi Ackie is in final negotiations to star as Whitney Houston in Sony/TriStar's upcoming musical biopic, I Wanna Dance With Somebody, according to Deadline (pictured in 2020)

Playing an icon: Naomi Ackie is in final negotiations to star as Whitney Houston in Sony/TriStar’s upcoming musical biopic, I Wanna Dance With Somebody, according to Deadline (pictured in 2020)

The screenwriter, who previously directed Issa Rae in 2020’s The Photograph, noted she was ‘moved by’ Ackie’s ‘ability to capture the stage presence of a global icon while bringing humanity to her interior life.’  

After an intense bidding war between multiple studios and streaming platforms, it was announced this summer that Sony’s TriStar Pictures won the rights for the biopic of the life and tragic death of the legendary songstress. 

The project, titled after her massive 2000 hit, was penned by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Anthony McCarten, who is one of the hottest scribes in Hollywood today. 

In partnership with Houston's estate: The 28-year-old star, best known for her role as Jannah in 2019's Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker, will be a part of a 'no holds barred' look on the icon's life and legacy; seen in 2011

In partnership with Houston's estate: The 28-year-old star, best known for her role as Jannah in 2019's Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker, will be a part of a 'no holds barred' look on the icon's life and legacy; seen in 2011

In partnership with Houston’s estate: The 28-year-old star, best known for her role as Jannah in 2019’s Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker, will be a part of a ‘no holds barred’ look on the icon’s life and legacy; seen in 2011

Ackie seen in 2019

Ackie seen in 2019

Houston pictured in 2008

Houston pictured in 2008

Coming soon: After an intense bidding war between multiple studios and streaming platforms, Sony’s TriStar Pictures has won the rights for the biopic of the life and tragic death of the legendary songstress

McCarten has a knack for writing acclaimed biopics – he is the screenwriter responsible for Darkest Hour, Bohemian Rhapsody, and The Theory Of Everything.

All three of those films – about the lives of Winston Churchill, Freddie Mercury and Stephen Hawking, respectively – led to major Oscar wins in the acting category for Gary Oldman, Rami Malek and Eddie Redmayne.

Himself a four-time Academy Award nominee, McCarten reportedly self-financed a life rights option to be able to tell Whitney’s story, and he wrote the script on spec while also lining up the rights to be able to include Houston’s unforgettable music. 

Leading lady: The project, titled I Wanna Dance With Somebody, was penned by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Anthony McCarten, who is one of the hottest scribes in Hollywood today; seen in February

Leading lady: The project, titled I Wanna Dance With Somebody, was penned by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Anthony McCarten, who is one of the hottest scribes in Hollywood today; seen in February

Leading lady: The project, titled I Wanna Dance With Somebody, was penned by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Anthony McCarten, who is one of the hottest scribes in Hollywood today; seen in February 

Legendary: Whitney, regarded as the most awarded female singer in history, tragically died of a drug overdose and drowning at age 48 in 2012; pictured in 2004

Legendary: Whitney, regarded as the most awarded female singer in history, tragically died of a drug overdose and drowning at age 48 in 2012; pictured in 2004

Legendary: Whitney, regarded as the most awarded female singer in history, tragically died of a drug overdose and drowning at age 48 in 2012; pictured in 2004

Whitney, regarded as the most awarded female singer in history, tragically died of a drug overdose and drowning at age 48 in 2012.

The fact that her family and estate are on board and a part of I Wanna Dance With Somebody is huge, as that has historically been the largest hurdle for many a biopic to clear before entering production.

Legendary record producer Clive Davis, who was one of Whitney’s mentors during her life, as well as Pat Houston, Whitney’s sister-in-law, are signed up as producers on the film, with the latter acting on behalf of the How Will I Know songbird’s estate.

Inside look: The fact that her family and estate are on board and a part of I Wanna Dance With Somebody is huge, as that has historically been the largest hurdle for many a biopic to clear before entering production (pictured in 1991)

Inside look: The fact that her family and estate are on board and a part of I Wanna Dance With Somebody is huge, as that has historically been the largest hurdle for many a biopic to clear before entering production (pictured in 1991)

Inside look: The fact that her family and estate are on board and a part of I Wanna Dance With Somebody is huge, as that has historically been the largest hurdle for many a biopic to clear before entering production (pictured in 1991)

‘From all my personal and professional experience with Whitney from her late teenage years to her tragic, premature death, I know the full Whitney Houston story has not yet been told,’ said Davis, 88, of the upcoming film.

‘I am so glad that Anthony McCarten has committed to a no holds barred, musically rich screenplay that finally reveals the whole Whitney whose vocal genius deeply affected the world while she bravely battled the demons that were to be her undoing.’

The Everything, Everything director is on board to helm the movie, referring to Whitney in a previous statement to Deadline as ‘peerless.’

‘Her voice continues to give me courage,’ she continued. ‘Thank you to [executives] Tom [Rothman], Josh [Greenstein] and Nicole [Brown] at Sony and TriStar Pictures for joining our team to lift Whitney up with love around the world.’

I Wanna Dance With Somebody is currently slated for a Thanksgiving 2022 release date. 

Two years away: I Wanna Dance With Somebody is currently slated for a Thanksgiving 2022 release date; seen in 2012

Two years away: I Wanna Dance With Somebody is currently slated for a Thanksgiving 2022 release date; seen in 2012

Two years away: I Wanna Dance With Somebody is currently slated for a Thanksgiving 2022 release date; seen in 2012

Link hienalouca.com

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