Whitney Houston's upcoming biopic just found its leading man. The film is the first to be authorized by Houston's family and estate. Moonlight star Ashton Sanders has been chosen to play Houston's husband of 14 years, R&B bad boy Bobby Brown. Sources also reveal to Deadline that Black Label Media is co-financing the film with Compelling Pictures and Primary Wave Music. As for who will play Houston's herself, British actress Naomi Ackie is the star.
Sanders is one of Hollywood's most in-demand actors. He currently stars as Rza in the Hulu series Wu-Tang: An American Saga. Other credits of Sanders include The Equalizer 2 and All Day and a Night. He is represented by Hyperion, and Felker Toczek Suddleson Abramson.
The Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody is directed by Kasi Lemmons. Stella Meghie will also exec produce the project. The screenplay is written by Anthony McCarten and promises to take audiences on an emotional and energetic journey through Houston's career and music.
Houston and Brown married at the singer's New Jersey mansion in 1992. The couple met at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards. In March 1993, Bobbi Kristina Brown, was born. She was the couple's only child together. Brown has three children from a previous marriage. After years of tabloid fodder, Houston filed for divorce in 2006 citing irreconcilable differences.
Sony Pictures won the bid for the film distribution. "Whitney just makes you want to get out of your seat and sing and dance!" The Hollywood Reporter reports TriStar head Nicole Brown said in a statement about the project. "She is anthemic in every way. Anthony McCarten has bottled that up in his masterful screenplay bringing this beloved legend to life in a way we've never seen her – funny, exhilarating, aspirational, complex and incredibly human. Add to that Stella Meghie, a diehard fan, who is so gifted at telling beautiful, modern, feminine tales. With the guidance of Pat Houston, the legendary Clive Davis, Larry Mestel, Denis O'Sullivan, and Jeff Kalligheri, we have the absolute dream team to create the ultimate celebration of Whitney's incredible life and musical achievements."
Other film projects that have chronicled the lives of Houston and Brown include the Lifetime film Whitney & Bobby and BET's The Bobby Brown Story. I Wanna Dance With Somebody is set to be released in theaters on Dec. 23, 2022.