Upon landing the role of legendary singer Whitney Houston, Naomi Ackie knew she had work to do to become the late star. Not having Houston as a resource could’ve served as quite the hurdle for the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker star. However, the actress found alternative means to learn more about the “How Will I Know” singer, including speaking with those who were close to the singer.
Playing the late pop music icon was a massive undertaking for The Score star. Given Houston passed away in 2012, Ackie couldn’t speak with the entertainer. She opened up about getting closer to understanding the late singer’s personality while being interviewed on the Jemele Hill is Unbothered podcast. She recalled reading memoirs from Houston’s close friend Robyn Crawford and mother Cissy Houston to understand the popstar better. Despite reading both books, she admitted to not speaking with either woman during her preparation process. Although, things were different once she started filming the musical biopic as Ackie came across numerous individuals who knew the “I Will Always Love You” singer personally.
Hearing firsthand accounts from those who encountered Houston was a perfect resource for the Master of None star. She got to know Houston personally despite not being able to speak with the late entertainer. Ackie was handling her portrayal of Houston with care, just like the movie’s depiction of her relationship with Crawford in the musical biopic. That seemed important to the up-and-coming star after landing the high-profile role.
Boston locals weren’t the only ones Ackie connected with as she crossed paths with those who played a role in Houston’s decades-long career. The 33-year-old actress mentioned interacting with key figures like Houston's mentor Clive Davis and musical director Rickey Minor, on and off set, saying:
Speaking with instrumental players in Houston’s legacy helped the film and TV actress understand the human behind the star. Doing so seemed to calm her concern over playing the singer-actress throughout her short lifetime.
Fans will finally get to see Naomi Ackie’s take on Whitney Houston when I Wanna Dance With Somebody arrives in theaters on December 23. Before watching the musical biopic, check out some notable biopics about iconic Black musicians, including What’s Love Got to Do With It and Ray. You can also watch some of Houston's movies in the meantime.
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).