I Wanna Dance with Somebody, the upcoming Whitney Houston biopic from director Stella Meghie, has found its lead star. After what has been a worldwide search to find the perfect person to play Whitney, the filmmakers have set their sights on British actress Naomi Ackie. Perhaps best known for her role as Jannah in last year's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Ackie appears to have left the biggest impression on Meghie, who now feels very confident that she's got the right actress for the part.
"We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston," Meghie said. "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."
Bohemian Rhapsody writer Anthony McCarten penned the screenplay for the Whitney Houston biopic, which will cover both her music career and personal life. Houston is of course very famous as a six-time Grammy winner with over 200 million records sold, fondly remembered by her fans as one of music's all-time greatest singers. Some of her most popular hit songs include titles like "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," "Saving All My Love for You," and "How Will I Know."
Houston was also an actress, making her acting debut alongside Kevin Costner in the 1992 movie The Bodyguard. She also provided six songs for the movie's official soundtrack, including the tremendously popular hit "I Will Always Love You." After years of struggling with her personal demons, it all came to an end when Houston tragically passed away in 2012 at the age of 48.
Pat Houston will produce on behalf of the Whitney Houston estate alongside music producer Clive Davis, screenwriter Anthony McCarten of Muse of Fire Productions, and Larry Mestel for Primary Wave Music, a partner of Whitney's estate. Denis O'Sullivan and Jeff Kalligheri will also produce and finance for Compelling Pictures, and Nicole Brown, Shary Shirazi, and Brittney Morrissey will oversee the project for TriStar Pictures. With the Houston estate on board, the singer's catalog, including her actual vocals, will be able to be used for the movie.
"Naomi Ackie's screen test was so powerful, it sent shivers up my spine," Davis said of Ackie's casting. "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."
Pat Houston added, "All Whitney fans have an appetite for perfection when it comes to Whitney and her legacy. 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." I Wanna Dance With Somebody is slated to release around Thanksgiving 2022, courtesy of Sony and its TriStar division. This news was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.