Whitney biopic star Naomi Ackie on portraying Houston’s queer and ‘deepest’ relationship

Robyn Crawford (Nafeesa Williams) and Whitney Houston (Naomi Ackie)

Naomi Ackie, who plays Whitney Houston in the new biopic about the star’s life, has shared her thoughts on the “connection” between Whitney and Robyn Crawford.

Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody is unapologetic in confronting Whitney’s bisexuality head-on and delves into th star’s relationship with her longtime assistant and creative director.

In 2019 Crawford wrote about their romantic relationship in her memoir A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston explaining they took a step back when Whitney’s career took off.

“It was really important to me too that we tell her full story,” Ackie told EW, “If you’re going to explore this amazing woman, you’ve got to do it all.”

She continued: “The thing I loved about her relationship with Robyn is that it’s just the deepest connection I think that Whitney experienced.

“That love that they shared, changed and morphed over time as they got older, but the love never changed.”

You may like to watch

Naomi Ackie wearing a silver evening dress poses for the camers at the premiere of Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Getty)
Naomi Ackie said she wouldn’t have wanted to be in the film if Houston’s and Crawford’s relationship wasn’t in the script. (Getty)

Considering Crawford (Nafeesa Williams) was such a huge part of Whitney’s future relationships, ultimately forcing Whitney to choose between her and husband Bobby Brown, Ackie was pleased to see the filmmakers did not shy away from telling the story.

“That’s a really big part of Whitney’s history and what made her who she is. And when I first read the script, it was already there, Robyn was always present,” Naomi Ackie said.

“It didn’t even occur to me that wouldn’t be the case. If it wasn’t a part of the story, I don’t think I would’ve felt as excited or really wanted to do it because it’s part of who she is.”

While Whitney and Crawford’s story does not have a happy ending, director Kasi Lemmons still strived for it to be portrayed well – including a kissing scene.

“It’s the sweetest kiss. It’s like a first kiss, very romantic,” Lemmons told The LA Times, “And I fought for it.”

Whitney’s Houston’s estate had agreed to the inclusion of the relationship in the biopic before Lemmons joined the project, but it was still sensitive to navigate.

“I said, ‘Well, presumably they kissed. We really can surmise that there was a romance there,’ I think we all know that at one point it was beyond just friendship.”

Meanwhile, Williams added: “Someone asked me about labels, and I don’t feel comfortable answering that question for either of them because they didn’t put labels on it. I think they were soulmates.”

I Wanna Dance with Somebody is now in cinemas.