Naomi Ackie reveals how she handled the pressure of playing Whitney Houston in I Wanna Dance with Somebody

Virgin Radio

24 Feb 2023, 15:05

Naomi Ackie

Credit: Getty

Naomi Ackie has admitted she sometimes struggled to navigate the nerves of playing iconic singer Whitney Houston in I Wanna Dance with Somebody. 

In the biopic, the Star Wars actress portrayed the legendary vocalist throughout her career, and the film is now available to watch via home digital download, and on Blu-ray from Tuesday 28th February. 

Walking in the shoes of such a notable figure like Whitney came wasn't without its challenges, and while speaking exclusively to, Naomi revealed how she handled the pressure, and how it felt to see her loyal fans react to her portrayal. 

Naomi shared: “It's been so lovely seeing people's reactions to it, like I'm really bowled over by how much people have been affected by it and really enjoyed it.”

On tackling the life of such a beloved artist, the BAFTA Rising Star 2023 nominee added that some days were tougher than others. She said: “Handling the pressure was a tough one. I think there were days where I didn't handle it very well at all. My fear overrode my determination to do the job well, but it was a step-by-step, day-by-day, not to quote Whitney Houston, but it was a step-by-step, day-by-day kind of situation.

Overcoming her trepidation of playing Whitney did allow Naomi to take some lessons with her, something she'll always be grateful for.

She continued: “It was about handling the tasks and matters of the day, instead of looking at the larger picture, which is a lesson I'm taking with me. With most of the things that you want to achieve, or life in general, it’s like a day-by-day situation. 

“I've come out of it better than I went into it. I have grown so much as a performer, but also as a person because of that experience, because of the challenges that filming this film presented. I'm really grateful for the film coming out and for the reception being good, but I'm also so grateful for the lessons I've learned from my own life because I did this job.”

The film also stars Stanley Tucci as Clive Davis, who discovered Houston in 1983 and was an instrumental part in launching her career. The real Clive Davis served as producer on the film, which is directed by Kasi Lemmons and penned by Bohemian Rhapsody writer Anthony McCarten.

Along with Naomi and Tucci, Ashton Sanders features in the cast as Bobby Brown, while Tamara Tunie plays Whitney’s mother, Cissy. Clarke Peter plays her father, John.

I Wanna Dance with Somebody is now available to watch via home digital download, and on Blu-ray from Tuesday February 28th.