Stella Meghie (“The Photograph”) is directing the film from a screenplay by “Bohemian Rhapsody” writer Anthony McCarten. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” is slated to release at Thanksgiving of 2022.
“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,” Meghie said.
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” follows the life and times of Houston, the iconic artist behind timeless hits like “I Will Always Love You” and “How Will I Know.” Houston, who died in 2012, made her acting debut in the 1992 romantic thriller “The Bodyguard.”
“Naomi Ackie’s screen test was so powerful, it sent shivers up my spine,” said Clive Davis, one of the film’s producers. “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, who is producing on behalf of Whitney Houston’s estate, 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.”
Ackie recently won a BAFTA for her role in Netflix’s “The End of the F***Ing World.” She also appeared in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” and Steve McQueen’s anthology series “Small Axe.” She will star next in the heist musical “The Score” with Will Poulter and Johnny Flynn.
Larry Mestel will also produce behalf of Primary Wave Music, which is a partner of the Whitney Houston estate. Denis O’Sullivan (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) and Jeff Kalligheri (“Submergence”), who are financing and producing via Compelling Pictures. Nicole Brown, Shary Shirazi, and Brittany Morrissey will oversee the project for TriStar Pictures.
Ackie is repped by CAA, Hamilton Hodell, Range Media Partners, Peikoff Mahan and Personal PR.