Watch: Naomi Ackie talks to Yahoo about playing Whitney Houston
As I Wanna Dance With Somebody, the biopic of the legendary Whitney Houston prepares to hit cinemas on Boxing Day, the film’s star Naomi Ackie has revealed that audiences will hear her own singing voice in the film.
Earlier in the year, it was announced that the singer’s own distinctive voice would provide the vocals in I Wanna Dance With Somebody but talking to Yahoo UK, Ackie revealed that she does 'sing a little bit' after all.
“I sing the first song that you hear in the film, when she’s a big younger and needed to be refined,” she explained.
“But most of it is Whitney. I just sing for the dramatic beats, so I sing in one of the office scenes, when she’s choosing a track. But I don’t do it too much. 97.9% of it is Whitney!”
The film traces the life story of one of the bestselling music artists of all time. Nicknamed The Voice, Houston was discovered at the age of 19, going on to a have a glittering career that included seven consecutive number ones in the Billboard Hot 100, as well as two Emmy Awards and six Grammies.
She also found success as an actor, especially in her debut movie, The Bodyguard (1992), in which she sang one of her most enduring tracks, I Will Always Love You. The new film also looks at her turbulent private life, including her relationships with her family and her husband, Bobby Brown (Ashton Sanders).
Watch a clip from I Wanna Dance With Somebody
Ackie took a level headed approach to playing such a musical icon, a role she realises could be identified with her for the rest of her career. “You take your time and try to do the work as best you can and keep that kind of stuff out of your head,” she said, talking about her preparation.
“I think it was a bit of a challenge to keep it out of my head, given how big it was. I tried to whittle it down so that it would seem the same as any job and approach it in the same way. Hopefully the work speaks for itself.”
This is the first major lead role for the Camden-born actor, whose breakthrough came in Lady Macbeth (2016), a performance that won her a BIFA for Most Promising Newcomer.
She also won a Best Supporting Actress TV BAFTA for The End Of The F**king World and was most recently seen earlier this year in British thriller The Score, alongside Will Poulter and Johnny Flynn.
This new look at Houston’s life, which was directed by Kasi Lemmons (Harriet) and written by Anthony McCarten (Bohemian Rhapsody, The Theory Of Everything) also stars Stanley Tucci, Nafessa Williams, Tamara Tunie and Clarke Peters.
I Wanna Dance With Somebody is released in cinemas on Boxing Day. Watch a trailer below.