British actress Naomi Ackie is to play Whitney Houston in a new film about the late singer’s life.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody will be scripted by Anthony McCarten, who wrote Freddie Mercury film Bohemian Rhapsody.
Ackie, 28, from east London won a Bafta TV Award earlier this year for her performance in the Channel 4 series The End of the F***ing World.
She has also appeared in Doctor Who, Yardie, and played Jannah in 2019 film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
In a statement to Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, director Stella Meghie said: “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.”
I Wanna Dance With Somebody will follow the life and times of Houston, and comes hot on the heels of the success of films such as Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, which was based on the life and music of Sir Elton John.
Houston, who died in 2012, was best known for hits such as Saving All My Love For You and I Will Always Love You. She made her acting debut opposite Kevin Costner in the 1992 romantic thriller The Bodyguard.
Music mogul Clive Davis, who worked closely with Houston and is one of the producers on the new film, said 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,” he said. “Naomi is the real deal and I can’t imagine a better choice for this iconic role.”