British 'Star Wars' actor Naomi Ackie to play Whitney Houston in new biopic

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
·2-min read
English actress Naomi Ackie poses at the San Sebastian Film Festival, northern Spain September 20, 2016. The actress appears in the William Oldroyd directed feature film "Lady Macbeth", part of the Official Selection. REUTERS/Vincent West
Naomi Ackie (Credit: REUTERS/Vincent West)

Naomi Ackie is in final negotiations to play iconic singer Whitney Houston in a new biopic movie.

Set to be called I Wanna Dance With Somebody, it will be made by Canadian director Stella Meghie, who was behind the movies The Weekend and The Photograph.

“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,” she said.

Veteran music producer Clive Davis, who discovered Houston and is one of the movie's producers, added: “Naomi Ackie’s screen test was so powerful, it sent shivers up my spine.

Whitney Houston performs in concert at Wembley Stadium in London May 5, 1988.   REUTERS/Peter Skingley
Whitney Houston performs in concert at Wembley Stadium in London May 5, 1988 (Credit: REUTERS/Peter Skingley)

“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.”

28-year-old Ackie, from Walthomstow, came to prominence playing the role of Jannah, the former stormtrooper turned rebel collaborator in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

She also appeared last week in the latest of Steve McQueen's Small Axe short film anthology, Education.

Last year, she the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the Channel 4 comedy-drama series The End of the F**king World.

Cousin of Dionne Warwick and an 'honorary' niece of Aretha Franklin, Houston was one of the best-selling recording artists of all time, recording hits like I Wanna Dance With Somebody and Saving All My Love For You.

Singer Whitney Houston gestures at the Clive Davis pre-Grammy party in Beverly Hills, California February 9, 2008. The Grammy awards will be given out in Los Angeles on February 10.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni   (UNITED STATES)
Whitney Houston at the Clive Davis pre-Grammy party in Beverly Hills, February 9, 2008 (Credit: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

She broke into acting in the 1992 movie The Bodyguard, with Kevin Costner, and won the Grammy for its theme song, the Dolly Parton cover I Will Always Love You.

Houston was found dead on 11 February 2012, having drowned in the bath of her hotel suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Having long struggled with substance abuse, it was discovered that she had a number of drugs in her system at the time. Her death was ruled an accident.

Penned by Bohemian Rhapsody writer Anthony McCarten, the movie is set for release in December, 2022.

Watch: Sony wins bid for Whitney Houston movie