Naomi Ackie: 5 Things To Know About The Actress Playing Whitney Houston In Biopic

Naomi Ackie's first leading role in a movie is as Whitney Houston in 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody'. No big deal! Here's everything you need to know about Naomi.

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Image Credit: Emily Aragones

  • Naomi Ackie is a British actress.
  • Her breakout role was in ‘Lady Macbeth’.
  • She plays Whitney Houston in the biopic ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody.’

Everyone’s going to be talking about Naomi Ackie, 30, after they see I Wanna Dance With Somebody. The Whitney Houston biopic stars Naomi in her first lead film role, which is pretty incredible. Naomi sings some of the late singer’s biggest songs including “I Will Always Love You” in the movie. Fans might not be familiar with Naomi yet, but that’s definitely going to change after the biopic comes out in theaters on December 23. Here’s everything you need to know about Naomi.

Naomi Ackie
Naomi Ackie in ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody’ (Photo: Emily Aragones)

Naomi is British.

Naomi was born and raised in Walthamstow, London. She’s the daughter of second-generation immigrants from Grenada. Naomi’s father worked in transported and her mother worked in healthcare. She was the youngest of three children.

“I was a really anxious kid,” Naomi said in an interview with Elle. “And my teens were awkward too. Now I look back on those years, I realise there was so much going on.”

She started acting at age 11.

Naomi fell in love with acting in school when she was 11 years old. She played the angel Gabriel in a school nativity play. She went on to study acting at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Naomi’s big break came from the 2016 film Lady Macbeth, starring Florence Pugh. For her performance, Naomi won the British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer.

Naomi Ackie
Whitney Houston; Naomi Ackie (Photo: Shutterstock)

She was in a ‘Star Wars’ movie.

Star Wars fans were introduced to Naomi in 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker, the final installment of the sequel trilogy. Naomi played Hannah, a former Stormtrooper who switches sides to help the Resistance. Naomi explained that her role as a Black woman in a Star Wars movie was received positively by fans.

“I do know that what I’ve experienced so far has come hugely from a place of love and support and excitement and joy, and I don’t think that will go away,” she told Elle in 2019.

She was almost in a ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel.

Naomi was supposed to star in HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel series set 10,000 years before the events of the series. The full cast, including lead star Naomi Watts, filmed the pilot episode, before HBO scrapped the series entirely in October 2019.

Naomi studied Whitney Houston before filming the biopic.

Naomi went into a deep dive on Whitney’s life while preparing for I Wanna Dance with Somebody, which explores Whitney’s highs and lows before her death. “There’s one interview—it’s quite a long one, maybe in three parts on YouTube. She does this thing with her hand a lot. And that was the first thing I used to practice,” Naomi told The A.V. Club. “Those little things were what I would hold on to and practice, really practice during the day by myself like a weird actor in her own flat, just a lot. All of it together created a space where I felt like I could capture some of the essence of Whitney,” she added.