Naomi Ackie, the star of Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody says she wouldn’t have done the film if Whitney’s queer relationship wasn’t included.
The film stars Ackie as the ‘So Emotional’ singer and her ascent to international fame as one of the greatest singers of a generation.
Speaking exclusively to Ola Awosika for Attitude ahead of the film’s release Naomi discusses bringing Whitney’s decades-long friendship and relationship with Robyn Crawford to the big screen. In her 2019 book A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston, Crawford opened about the two’s relationship.
Ackie says it is “so important” that relationship between the two women is front and centre in the movie.
“[It] feels like liberation to me,” she continues. “It’s a part of her story. The love between Robyn and Whitney was so pure and real and dynamic. It moved, it shifted, they never put a name on it. And I just love that. It’s a part of Whitney’s story.”
Of the relationship, which began early on before Whitney’s fame, Ackie wonders if Whitney would have become the star she did without Robyn’s support.
“It deserves to be told. So, to be honest with you, if that wasn’t in the script, I don’t think I would have done the project because it feels like continuing a false narrative that doesn’t feel truthful,” Ackie goes on to say.
After bonding with Ola over a shared love of the 1997 Cinderella film starring Whitney as the Fairy Godmother, Naomi also says that she’s happy to represent stories like Whitney’s.
“It matters and that’s me as a young Black girl. There’s so much more stories to be told. If I can be a part of helping that representation, giving people more confidence to then step up and tell their own stories, because some of these experiences aren’t mine.
“And if I can be, in the same way that Whitney was that for us growing up, if I can do that a little bit so someone can stand on my shoulders 10 years down the line and be like ‘Ok, because Na did it, I can now do it and take it a step further and better than she did,’ please, by all means.”
She adds, “We’re not there yet where we can sit back and just be like ‘it’s all going to work out fine.’ We have to keep pushing. There’s still work to do.”
Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody is out in UK cinemas on Friday, 23 December.