An “exhaustive” casting process has been conducted to find the actor to play Whitney Houston for the upcoming biopic of the legendary singer.

British actor Naomi Ackie, according to Deadline, has been cast as Whitney Houston in the upcoming biopic I Want to Dance With Somebody, which is being made by Sony/TriStar.

Ackie’s star continues to ascend with the announcement, following a BAFTA-winning turn in the Netflix series, The End Of The F***Ing World and a role in 2019’s high-profile Star Wars blockbuster, The Rise Of Skywalker. 

The film’s director, Stella Megie, who last helmed this year’s The Photograph, has spoken about the casting process and the decision to choose Ackie, stating “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.”

Crucially, the film has the blessing of the Houston estate and rights to the iconic singer’s musical back catalogue.

The latter was especially key in getting the project off the ground, especially in the wake of so many other musical biopic projects that lacked their subject’s songs failing to make an impact with audiences. The 2013 Jimi Hendrix biopic, Jimi: All Is By My Side, the upcoming David Bowie film, Stardust and indeed, a previous Houston biopic directed by Angela Bassett, Whitney, all largely failed to connect with audiences critically or commercially in the way that Bohemian Rhapsody or Rocketman did.

Ackie most recently appeared in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe film anthology, but it is certain that her profile will be boosted further following this announcement.

We’ll bring you more news on the production of I Want To Dance With Somebody as we hear it.

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