Naomi Ackie says she’s putting herself in “firing line” for playing Whitney Houston in new biopic

Naomi Ackie has said she’s “potentially putting myself in the firing line” for playing Whitney Houston in the upcoming biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody.

READ MORE: ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ review: A flawed but fitting tribute to a complex icon

The actress, who is best-known for playing a resistance fighter in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, discussed portraying the iconic singer in a new interview with The Independent.

“I know that by playing Whitney I’m potentially putting myself in the firing line,” she said. “Though I’m more aware of [what I’m getting into] because I’m 31 and she was 19 when she entered the industry.”

However, Ackie admitted that she’s still daunted by the prospect of becoming a major star. “I love being in front of the camera and telling stories, but [fame] feels alien to me. I can already see my life changing. And I really like my life!”

Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston in ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’. CREDIT: Sony Pictures

Directed by Kasi Lemmons, I Wanna Dance With Somebody focuses more on the triumphant moments in Houston’s life, rather than her struggles with drug addiction and a number of scandals. Ackie explained why she felt that was the right move for the story, and why the positive aspects of her life far outweigh the negative.

“We like the binaries of good and bad,” she said. “But I’m a big believer that you can be many things at once.

“When I think about Whitney – yes, obviously there are the drugs and her illness of addiction. But in comparison to the amount that she gave us musically, and especially if you’re of a minority – whether that’s your sexuality or the colour of your skin – the access she provided us is huge.”

She added: “On top of that, the sacrifices she made that allow people like me to even play her in the first place. Without Whitney, or so many other pioneers of that time, we wouldn’t even be talking about diversity today. To me, that far outweighs any of the other parts of her life.”

In a three-star review of the new biopic, NME wrote: “Ackie’s performance as the late superstar is genuinely transformative. She doesn’t just nail Houston’s distinctive speaking voice and stage mannerisms – the lip quivers, the dramatic hand gestures – but also captures her plucky spirit.”

‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ will be released in UK cinemas on December 26.

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