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Sunday, October 1, 2023
Oct. 1, 2023

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Biopic captures Whitney Houston’s ascent

Naomi Ackie stars as late singer known for her soaring voice


Actor Naomi Ackie captures singer Whitney Houston’s rise to fame and ups and downs in the newly released trailer for the upcoming biopic “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

In the first footage, released on Thursday, the “Master of None” actor takes viewers back to Houston’s breakthrough moment at the Sweetwaters club in Manhattan, where music mogul Clive Davis (Stanley Tucci) had a front-row seat to her talents.

“There’s a boy/ I know/ He’s the one I dream of,” she sings in the trailer. Davis told USA Today that the film features only Houston’s singing, not Ackie’s.

Houston’s song “How Will I Know” scores the trailer, which follows the excitement behind the pop diva’s first radio hit, her time in the studio and her upbringing as a singer in her church choir.

“My dream, sing what I want to sing. Be how I want to be,” Ackie says. “Reach as big an audience as I can.”

The upbeat hit continues as Ackie’s Houston goes from one crowded gig to one of the nation’s most public stages. Donning a white track suit and a matching headband, Ackie embodies Houston as she performs the national anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla.

Later in the trailer, the singer is told that “your music isn’t Black enough.”

“Look, I don’t know how to sing Black, and I don’t know how to sing white either,” she responds. “I know how to sing.”

With that, the trailer plays Houston’s titular number, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” while teasing Houston’s wedding to Bobby Brown, even more fan-filled shows and more of Houston’s memorable Super Bowl performance.

“I might’ve just heard the greatest voice of her generation,” Tucci’s Davis says.

Written by Anthony McCarten (who penned the screenplay for the Oscar winner “Bohemian Rhapsody”), “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” also stars Ashton Sanders, Tamara Tunie, Nafessa Williams and Clarke Peters.

The first look at the Houston biopic, directed by “Harriet” filmmaker Kasi Lemmons, comes more than a decade after the pop legend died in February 2012 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was 48.

A multiple Grammy winner, Houston was known for soaring hits including “Greatest Love of All,” “How Will I Know” and “I Will Always Love You,” the powerful ballad from her 1992 film “The Bodyguard,” in which she starred.

Houston, who broke music sales records, influenced several generations of singers including Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, Queen Latifah and Jennifer Hudson.