• Naomi Ackie is set to play Whitney Houston in the upcoming biopic "I Wanna Dance With Somebody"
  • Ackie impressed director Stella Meghie and the late singer's sister-in-law Pat Houston, who serves as producer
  • The movie is slated for release in 2022

Naomi Ackie is set to play Whitney Houston in an upcoming biopic based on the life and legacy of the iconic singer.

After a worldwide search, Ackie, who played a pivotal role in “Star Wars: Rise of the Skywalker,” is in final negotiations to take on the lead role in the upcoming movie “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” which is scheduled to hit theaters in 2022, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Speaking about Ackie’s casting, Stella Meghie, who will be directing the project, said the actress “impressed” everyone with her skill set at every stage of the process and is really excited to work with her on the highly-anticipated feature film.

“We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston. Naomi Ackie impressed us at every stage of the process. I was moved by her ability to capture the stage presence of a global icon while bringing humanity to her interior life,” THR quoted Meghie as saying.

On the other hand, the late singer’s sister-in-law Pat Houston, who will be producing the movie on behalf of the Whitney Houston estate, revealed that Ackie was selected for the lead role on the basis of her “quality performances” and her “commitment” to transforming into a woman who still influences the current generation of music.

“All Whitney fans have an appetite for perfection when it comes to Whitney and her legacy. To transform someone into a matchless icon is virtually impossible. But with careful consideration, Naomi Ackie was selected based on her quality performances and her deep commitment to emerging into the woman that we all loved. We look forward to taking this journey with her,” Pat said in the statement.

Clive Davies, who also serves as a producer for the film, said Ackie's audition "sent shivers" up his spine.

With the backing of the estate, viewers will get to hear Houston’s music catalog, including some of the greatest hits written and produced by the “I Will Always Love You” hitmaker.

The supremely talented singer won eight Grammys during her illustrious career, including two Grammy Hall of Fame awards, and is the only Black artist to have three diamond-certified albums.

Houston, whose hits included “The Greatest Love of All,” died by accidental drowning and heart disease on the eve of the 54th annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. She was 48.

Naomi Ackie
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 02: Naomi Ackie wearing Stella McCartney trench coat, navy shirt green stilettos and baby blue leather bag outside Stella McCartney during Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2020/2021 Day Eight on March 02, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Hanna Lassen/Getty Images) Photo by Hanna Lassen/Getty Images