Meet Naomi Ackie, the Favorite to Star in the New Whitney Houston Biopic

The upcoming Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody has seemingly found its star in 28 year-old, British actress Naomi Ackie taking on the lead role for the movie, which is anticipated to be released in 2022.

According to The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday, Ackie is in negotiations to star in the film, which will be directed by Jean of the Joneses director Stella Meghie. The screenplay was co-written with Oscar-nominated writer Anthony McCarten, who wrote the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything, The Two Popes, and Freddie Mercury/Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody.

The director sang praises for the actress, explaining why she felt Ackie was perfect for the film. "We spent the better part of the last year in an exhaustive search for an actress who could embody Whitney Houston," she told the Reporter. "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."

Music producer Clive Davis noted that while Houston's vocals will be used for the film's music, he was also excited about Ackie's performance. "Although Whitney's incomparable vocals are used for all the songs, Naomi's extraordinary acting range enables her to masterfully capture Whitney's unique charm, star power, and, of course, her personal struggles. Naomi is the real deal and I can't imagine a better choice for this iconic role," he told the Reporter.

While I Wanna Dance With Somebody may mark one of Ackie's first major roles, she's not an entirely new face to movie and TV screens. Most notably, she played Jannah in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Ackie's character was a former stormtrooper and helps the Resistance in "The Battle of Exegol."

The actress got her start in performing at age 11, when she played the angel Gabriel in a school play, she told The Evening Standard in a 2019 interview. She also studied at the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama.

Ackie will also be familiar to fans of Netflix's The End of the F**king World, which she played Bonnie in the second season. She received the BAFTA TV Award for Supporting Actress for her role in the series. Some of Ackie's other TV roles include playing Beth on Cleaning Up and Ruby on The Bisexual.

In 2016, Ackie made her big-screen debut as Anna in the film adaptation Lady Macbeth. Her performance netted her a "most promising newcomer" award at the 2016 British Independent Film Awards

Star Wars wasn't the only major franchise that Ackie had under her belt. She was included in an unaired pilot to a prequel series to Game of Thrones. According to Entertainment Weekly, HBO put a halt to the series, which was supposed to star Naomi Watts.

Before I Wanna Dance With Somebody, fans can see Ackie in the musical heist The Score, which is in post-production according to IMDb. The movie also stars Will Poulter and Johnny Flynn.

Newsweek reached out to Ackie's publicist for comment.

Naomi Ackie British Academy Film Awards
Naomi Ackie attends the EE British Academy Film Awards 2020 at Royal Albert Hall on February 02, 2020 in London, England. Lia Toby/Getty