Whitney Houston Biopic 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' Will Star British Actress Naomi Ackie

A new biopic that will detail the life of singer Whitney Houston, titled I Wanna Dance with Somebody, has found its star in British actress Naomi Ackie. The project has the backing of both the Whitney Houston estate and A&R star Clive Davis, under whose guidance the singer was propelled to superstardom. The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Naomi, who had a pivotal role in Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker as Jannah, is in negotiations for the feature. It will be released by Sony and its TriStar division during the Thanksgiving 2022 holiday weekend.

"We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston," said the movie's director Stella Meghie.

"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."
I Wanna Dance with Somebody will reportedly be written by Anthony McCarten, who penned the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody. Pat Houston, Whitney's sister-in-law, will produce the movie on behalf of the Whitney Houston estate, along with Clive. This collaboration will give the film access to the singer's entire catalog of music, which spanned over 25 years.

Singer Whitney Houston is seen performing on stage during the 2004 World Music Awards at the Thomas and Mack Center on September 15, 2004 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Getty Images | Kevin Winter

Clive, who signed Whitney in 1985 to Arista records, claimed to THR that Naomi's screen test was so powerful, "it sent shivers up my spine." He revealed that all of Whitney's vocals would be used. Paired with Naomi's acting, he said the biopic would capture her essence and star power.

Pat Houston said to THR that this film was for fans of her beloved, late family member who insist on a proper representation on film. She also shared her feeling that Naomi was a great hire for the job.

It is unclear how much of Whitney's life will be detailed in this new biopic. A Lifetime movie titled Whitney, directed by actress Angela Bassett, was released in 2015. That television production showed her rise to fame and turbulent relationship with husband Bobby Brown. It starred Yaya DaCosta as the songstress and Arlen Escarpeta as the former New Edition performer-turned-R&B superstar.

In February 2012, Whitney died in a bathtub at a Beverly Hills hotel shortly before Clive's pre-Grammy party. A coroner's report released in March stated that the cause of death was accidental drowning, with heart disease and cocaine use listed as factors in her passing, reported Britannica.