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Naomi Ackie Embodies Young Whitney Houston in Trailer for Biopic ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ 

Naomi Ackie hits the high notes as Whitney Houston in the first trailer for I Wanna Dance With Somebody, a dramatized biopic about the life of the late singer. The clip showcases Houston getting her start onstage and her subsequent rise to fame.

Along with Ackie, the cast includes Ashton Sanders as Bobby Brown, Stanley Tucci as Clive Davis, Clarke Peters as John Houston, Whitney’s father, and Tamara Tunie as Cissy Houston, Whitney’s mother. The film was directed by Kasi Lemmons and written by Anthony McCarten.

An official synopsis has not been released, however a tagline notes, “The greatest voice of our time has an even greater story.” Sony will release I Wanna Dance With Somebody in theaters Dec. 21.

Although the trailer marks a first look at Ackie in the role, the film was first announced back in 2020. The biopic is authorized by the Whitney Houston estate, which is acting as a producer on the film alongside Clive Davis, Houston’s longtime mentor and label boss.

“From all my personal and professional experience with Whitney from her late teenage years to her tragic premature death, I know the full Whitney Houston story has not yet been told,” Davis said in a statement. “I am so glad that Anthony McCarten has committed to a no-holds-barred, musically rich screenplay that finally reveals the whole Whitney whose vocal genius deeply affected the world while she fiercely battled the demons that were to be her undoing.”

Pat Houston, Houston’s sister-in-law, who is the executor of the estate added, “Whitney’s legacy deserves only the best that can be given. I stand with the hearts of these partners being the chosen ones to produce a film that’s uplifting and inspiring to all that loved her, giving you a reason to continue to celebrate The Voice that we all fell in love with and will cherish forever!”

I Wanna Dance With Somebody is not the first onscreen version of Houston’s life to emerge since her death in 2012. The trailer arrives several years after Lifetime aired an unauthorized film about the singer’s life with YaYa DaCosta in the starring role. The film earned the ire of the Houston estate, with Pat Houston saying at the time, “If you watch this movie, watch it knowing that Lifetime is notorious for making bad biopics of deceased celebrities and brace yourself for the worst.” A separate documentary directed by Nick Broomfield titled Whitney: Can I Be Me was released in 2017.

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