TriStar Pictures has found its new director for the Whitney Houston biopic, I Wanna Dance With Somebody.
Kasi Lemmons has signed on to helm the film, replacing previous director Stella Meghie, who left the project due to creative differences but remains on board as an executive producer. Anthony McCarten (Bohemian Rhapsody) is writing the script.
28-year-old British actress Naomi Ackie, who’s appeared in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker and on Master Of None‘s third season, has been hired to play Houston after a long casting process.
Plot details about the film are pretty sparse right now, but the biopic will follow the life of the acclaimed singer and actress who tragically died almost 10 years ago due to an overdose.
Houston is the most awarded female music artist of all time and also one of the best-selling recording artists of all time, selling more than 200 million records worldwide. She won six Grammy Awards, 16 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards in her career.
In addition to her music, Houston also found success as an actor in the 90s, making her debut with romantic thriller The Bodyguard, while also recording songs for the film’s soundtrack, including ‘I Will Always Love You,’ which went on to become the best-selling physical single by a woman in music history. In 2020, she was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Lemmons first broke out as an actress in the 90s, appearing in films such as The Silence Of The Lambs and Candyman.
She then went on to direct 1997’s southern gothic drama Eve’s Bayou, and has since helmed films such as Talk To Me, Black Nativity, and 2019’s Harriet, which earned star Cynthia Erivo multiple awards nominations for her role as abolitionist and political activist Harriet Tubman.
Lemmons said in a statement: “Early in my writing career I developed two projects for Whitney and I had the opportunity to meet her. She was a tremendous, incomparable artist and her story is as awe-inspiring as it is tragic. I feel privileged to be part of bringing her life story and music to the audience.”
Lemmons has a few other projects in the works in addition to the Houston biopic. She’s attached to direct a miniseries titled On Her Own Ground, which revolves around C.J. Walker, an entrepreneur who built a beauty empire at the turn of the century.
She’s also working on two literature adaptations: Ring Shout, an adaptation of P. Djèlí Clark‘s new horror novel, as well as a big screen version of Zadie Smith‘s On Beauty, which examines two connected families.
She’s also on board to direct an episode of Women Of The Movement, an anthology series about the civil rights movement and the women behind it.
We’ll wait to hear more details about the Houston biopic. But with Lemmons on board, the writer of Bohemian Rhapsody penning the script, and a worldwide figure at the center of it all, expect I Wanna Dance With Somebody to be a big hit.