EXCLUSIVE: Nafessa Williams has been tapped to play Robyn Crawford in the biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody, the upcoming feature about the late musical icon Whitney Houston. Williams steps in for Moses Ingram. who recently parted ways with the role.
Also joining the cast are Clarke Peters and Tamara Tunie, who will play John and Cissy Houston. Naomi Ackie will play Whitney Houston in the musical biopic that is being directed by Kasi Lemmons. The screenplay will be penned by Anthony McCarten, and will take audiences on an emotional, energetic journey through Houston’s career and music.
Crawford was Houston’s longtime assistant who would later become Houston’s creative director while also remaining one of her closest friends.
Alongside McCarten’s Muse of Fire Productions, the film is being produced by Pat Houston on behalf of the Houston Estate; Grammy-winning music producer Clive Davis; Larry Mestel on behalf of Primary Wave Music; Denis O’Sullivan and Jeff Kalligheri for Compelling Pictures; Matt Jackson of Jackson Pictures; and Molly Smith, Trent and Thad Luckinbill for Black Label Media. Primary Wave Music is a partner of the Whitney Houston estate.
Sony and TriStar Pictures will release the film in theaters on December 23, 2022.
Houston is the most awarded female music artist of all time and is one of the bestselling recording artists of all time, selling more than 200 million records worldwide. Houston won six Grammys, 16 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards and two Emmy Awards, among many others. Houston made her acting debut with the romantic thriller film The Bodyguard, which she recorded six songs for the film’s soundtrack, including “I Will Always Love You.” The song won the Grammy for Record of the Year and became the bestselling physical single by a woman in music history. The soundtrack album won the Grammy for Album of the Year and remains the bestselling soundtrack album in history.
In 2020, Whitney was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and became the first black artist to have three RIAA Diamond Awards.
Williams was recently seen in the Deon Taylor feature Black & Blue alongside Naomie Harris, Frank Grillo and Tyrese Gibson for Screen Gems. Last year she wrapped the fourth and final season Black Lightning. Her other credits include Burning Sands, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to rave reviews, the CBS series Code Black and Showtime’s Twin Peaks. Up next, she will be seen in Lee Daniels’ pilot for FX The Spook Who Sat By the Door.
Best known for his role as Detective Lester Freamon on The Wire, Peters recently starred in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods and was also seen in the HBO & BBC One series His Dark Materials. Peters will soon be seen starring in the AMC’s La Fortuna, opposite Stanley Tucci, as well as Showtime’s The Man Who Fell to Earth opposite Chiwetel Ejiofor and Naomie Harris. He can currently be seen in The Foundation for Apple+ and in the Netflix series The Irregulars.
Tunie will next be seen in A Journal for Jordan starring Michael B. Jordan and directed by Denzel Washington. Her other credits include AMC’s series Dietland, the BBC/Netflix political drama Black Earth Rising, Apple TV+’s See, and Netflix’s November release of the live-action series Cowboy Bebop. She has also starred in Wolf Films/Universal Media Studio’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Williams is repped by ICM Partners and Link Entertainment. Peters is repped by Vanguard Management Group and Conway van Gelder Grant. Tunie is repped by Alta Global Media and Paradigm.
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