Breakthrough actress Naomi Ackie is currently in the spotlight after promotional posters of Legendary singer Whitney Houston’s biopic titled I Wanna Dance with Somebody has been released to the media. The promotional poster is the first time Naomi Ackie was seen as Whitney Houston. She rose to prominence after starring in the film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Since Ackie started acting, she has had numerous recognition for her acting skills. She even won the Best Supporting Actress award at the British Academy Television Awards in 2020 for her portrayal of Bonnie in the second season of the comedy series titled The End of the F***ing World. Get to know the star of Whitney Houston’s biopic.
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Naomi Ackie’s Early Life and Career
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Naomi Ackie was born on August 22, 1992 in Walthamstow, London where she was also raised. She is the daughter of the second generation immigrants who emigrated from Grenada. Her father used to be a Transport for the London employees and her mother used to work for the National Health Service. She has an older brother and sister and went to the Walthamstow School for Girls. She first had her first stage play at the age of 11 playing as the angel Gabriel in their school’s nativity play. This has cultivated her interest in acting and decided she wanted to be an actress that moment. She went on to study at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama where she graduated last 2014.
Just after two years of her graduation, she landed her first film role in Lady Macbeth in 2016 where she won British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer the following year. Since then, she has been appearing in numerous projects such as Yardie in 2018 and the comedy series The End of the F***ing World.
Naomi Ackie’s Breakthrough in The Hollywood
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Naomi Ackie had her first major break when she was chosen to play as the newcomer Jannah in the final film of the trilogy directed by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Ackie’s role in the film is groundbreaking for the film comparable to Thandie Newton’s impact in Solo and Lupita Nyong’o’s impression voicing Maz Kanata in the trilogy. Ackie’s character Jannah is among the few black women who played a central role in the universe of the modern Star Wars trilogy. Ackie was sat down by the director J.J Abrams to tell her the impact of her role; he does not want to pressure her, however her role would mean a lot to the black community especially to the young girls.
Rather than being pressured by the impact of her role to the black community, Ackie has made sure that she will be able to portray the role effectively and it became a challenge for her. She made sure that she will give justice to the role which became an integral part of creating Jannah’s aesthetic and persona. She just wanted her role to be big. Her Star Wars role might have prepared her to become the best actress to portray the role of Whitney.
]Why Naomi Ackie Was Chosen To Play Whitney
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Rising actress Naomi Ackie was chosen to play as the legendary performer Whitney Houston after some worldwide search. The iconic singer’s biopic titled I Wanna Dance with Somebody which will be released on December 21, 2022 by the Sony Pictures Releasing. Ackie will play as Whitney in the film where the singer’s life and career will be shown. Six time Grammy winner Whitney Houston is among the best-known recording artists in the history and selling over 200 million records across the world is not an easy feat. With numerous hit songs such as Saving All My Love for You, How Will I Know and I Wanna Dance With Somebody, she should be remembered as iconic as she is. With all these in mind, the film director Stella Meghie and screenplay writer Anthony McCarten are pressured not to just anybody for the role. They need to see who the best fit for the role is.
Meghie and McCarten decided to go for Ackie since they were impressed with her at every stage of the selection process, Ackie was just impressive from the audition until the final selection for Whitney Houston’s biopic. In fact, Meghie was captivated by Ackie’s acting ability as she captures the stage presence of Whitney Houston and made them feel as if the global icon is still alive. Ackie has the ability to bring back Whitney to life. The screen test of Naomi Ackie was compelling that it even sent shivers down to the spine of the audience. Although the iconic voice and singing prowess of Whitney is incomparable, Ackie was able to capture the unique charm and star power of Whitney through her exceptional acting ability. Meghie believes that there is no better choice for Whitney’s role than Ackie. Naomi Ackie will be co-starring with Ashton Sanders and Stanley Tucci. Initially, Stella Meghie was the director however on September 1, 2021, Kasi Lemmons took over the directorial job and Meghie served as the executive producer.
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Sources: Daily Mail UK, NY Times, IMDB, E Online!
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