Naomi Ackie to play Whitney Houston in new biopic

Naomi Ackie will portray Whitney Houston in the new film "I Wanna Dance with Somebody." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Naomi Ackie will portray Whitney Houston in the new film "I Wanna Dance with Somebody." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Naomi Ackie will play late singer Whitney Houston in a new biopic from Sony/TriStar.

The 28-year-old actress will portray Houston in the upcoming film I Wanna Dance with Somebody, directed by Stella Meghie.


"We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston," 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."

Anthony McCarten, who wrote the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, will write the screenplay. Pat Houston, Houston's longtime manager and sister-in-law, will produce the film on behalf of Houston's estate, along with McCarten, Clive Davis and Larry Mestel.

"All Whitney fans have an appetite for perfection when it comes to Whitney and her legacy," Pat Houston said. "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 explores Houston's life and career. Houston was a Grammy-winning singer who made her acting debut in the 1992 film The Bodyguard. She died at age 48 in 2012.

The new film will use Houston's catalog, including her vocals, with the backing of Houston's estate and Davis.

"Naomi Ackie's screen test was so powerful, it sent shivers up my spine," Davis said. "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."

I Wanna Dance with Somebody is slated for a Thanksgiving 2022 release.

Ackie is a British actress who played Jannah in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. She also portrayed Bonnie in the Netflix series The End of the [Expletive] World.

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