Naomi Ackie does her best Whitney Houston impression in the first trailer for “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”


Charlee Major, TheYard Lead Reporter

The internet was taken back in time with the trailer drop of the Whitney Houston biopic, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”

“From New Jersey choir girl to one of the best-selling and most awarded recording artists of all time, audiences are taken on an inspirational, poignant and emotional journey through Houston’s trailblazing life and career,” the official synopsis said.

Naomi Ackie is known for her roles in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” and the Netflix original series “The End of the F***ing World.” She is continuing to show her range as she channels Grammy award-winning artist and vocal icon Whitney Houston.

Ackie spoke about playing Whitney Houston in the upcoming film with People Magazine.

“She’s been elevated in my life for so long that it felt like an impossible thing to achieve at times,” Ackie told People. “But so many people told me the same thing: If I wasn’t scared and nervous, they’d think something was wrong with me. The biggest challenge was letting my fear of the magnitude of this task take a backseat. Nothing good comes from sitting in fear too long.”

The film features many of Houston’s hits such as “Greatest Love of All,” “I Have Nothing” and the song inspiring the film’s title, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” 

The movie also shows the adversity Houston faced in her career. In the trailer it shows how the singer’s music was deemed as “not black enough.” Houston responded to this by saying she did not know how to sing black or white, she simply just knows how to sing.

The biopic is written by “Bohemian Rhapsody” screenwriter, Anthony McCarten, and directed by Kasi Lemmons, who also directed “Harriet.”

The trailer got a huge response on social media. It currently has over 8 million views on YouTube.

Some students at N.C. A&T students felt a more popular actress should have played the role of Whitney Houston. Sophomore psychology student Asha Muller says that a more mainstream actress should have taken the role. 

“I think a role that is iconic deserves to be played by someone who has more credentials like Jennifer Hudson,” Muller said.

Other students felt like it does not matter who is playing Houston, as long as they deliver a good performance.

“I think it was refreshing to see a new face at the front of a film like this,” said Makiya Bryant, freshman kinesiology student. “She sounded just like Whitney Houston to me.”

Lemmons said Ackie was more than ready to take on this role.

“She completely inhibits the character of Whitney,” Lemmons said. “She put in a year of vigorous preparation so that her transformation onscreen displays effortless virtuosity and is utterly believable.”

“I Wanna Dance with Somebody”  hits theaters on Dec. 21, 2022. Watch the trailer below.