Whitney Houston’s queer story was ‘so important’ for actor Naomi Ackie in new biopic

Collage of the real-life Whitney and Robyn, Naomi as Whitney and Nafessa Williams as Robyn

I Wanna Dance with Somebody star Naomi Ackie has reflected on the importance of representation in the upcoming biopic charting Whitney Houston’s rise to global superstardom.

Speaking to Attitude ahead of the film’s release in UK cinemas this Friday (23 December), Ackie said that it is “so important” that the intimate relationship between Houston and her former assistant Robyn Crawford is unmistakable in the film.

“[It] feels like liberation to me,” the actress stated. “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.”

Naomi Ackie transforms into Whitney Houston in upcoming biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Sony/Getty/George Rose)

Whitney Houston and Robyn Crawford had a decades-long relationship that began early on in the singer’s career. Crawford opened up about the pair’s intimate connection in her 2019 book A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston.

Ackie, 30, also hammered home how much the representation of Black women and girls on the big screen means to her.

“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.

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“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[omi] did it, I can now do it and take it a step further and better than she did,’ please, by all means.”

She added: “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.”

I Wanna Dance with Somebody arrives in US and UK cinemas on 23 December.