Angela Bassett rose to fame portraying iconic African-American women like Tina Turner and Betty Shabazz in Blockbuster biopics, so it is only fitting that in her directorial debut, the legendary actress will help bring the life of the late Whitney Houston to the small screen.Lifetime's telepic Whitney Houston (working title) is slated to premiere in 2015.
According to Lifetime, the made-for-tv movie will chronicle the tumultuous relationship between Houston and singer-songwriter Bobby Brown — from the time they first met at the very height of their celebrity through their courtship and rocky marriage.
I don't know about you but when Whitney passed away, I cried for about a week. I cried in car as I listened to WBLS play "The Greatest Love of All". I cried every time I turned on the tv and saw the young, exuberant Whitney we all fell in love with. In downward facing dog, there were tears falling on my yoga mat as my fellow yogis pretended not to notice the only Black girl in class having a breakdown. And during the televised funeral, at parts, I was straight hysterical.
Please, don't laugh. I'm from Essex County, New Jersey. We claim Whitney s our own and we are forever proud of her, regardless of how the media has tried to spin her ups and downs. Nobody is perfect. Everyone has demons.
Having said that, I feel relieved to know that Angela Bassett is at the artistic helm of the inevitable Whitney Houston movie. Not only am I sure that Yale trained (shameless plug) thespian will make a solid director, I think it's safe to assume that as a master of her craft, and a personal friend of Whitney's, Bassett will coax an incredibly nuanced performance from the movie's lead actress.
Which of course begs the question, who will play Whitney Houston? The actress will have to possess some physical likeness (don't pull a Nina Simone) and a deep emotional range in order to avoid playing Whitney as a one-dimensional erratic diva, the way the media often portrayed her in the years leading up to her death. Many names are being tossed around (including Willow Smith. #HaveASeat) but here are a few actresses that I personally think would do the role justice.
Former soap star Renee Goldsberry is a triple threat. She can act, dance, and yes, she can saaang. She'd easily be able to put herself in Whitney's shoes and even recreate some of her earlier videos. Watch this clip of her singing on One Life to Live and you too will be convinced.
Sharon Leal doesn't have the same name recognition of some of the other actresses on this list but in Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married she proved that she had chops, and in Dreamgirls we learned that she could work a stage.
If Lauryn Hill is cast as Whitney Houston it will be OVAH! I mean, that would literally make my 2015. Lauryn is strikingly beautiful, she and Whitney share the same New Jersey roots, she's a great actress (remember Sister Act) and at home on a stage. Even more, I think Lauryn would be able to draw upon her own experience of battling demons while under the glare of public scrutiny. More than any other actress, if properly coached, Lauryn could deliver the most authentic performance. It would also be amazing for her career.
Tika Sumpter played Whitney Houston's daughter in the movie Sparkle and I think she resembles a young Whitney Houston with her striking features, chocolate skin and statuesque body. Though she'd able to draw on her own experience with Houston, the role would likely be a stretch. Appearance wise, however, she'd be a great fit.
Yaya Dacosta is another actress who would probably have to step up to the plate skill-wise, but in terms of looks, DaCosta could be a dead ringer for a young Whitney Houston. There's also something about her presence, a certain je ne sai quoi, that makes her a very convincing super star.
Taraji P. Henson is the most skilled technician on the list and the Oscar nominated Baby Boy actress seems the most capable of expressing the seemingly contradictory aspects of Whitney's personality. Whitney was at times a walking anomaly, one part world-class diva and one-part round-the-way. The thing about Whitney is, though was heralded as one of the greatest singers of our time and by all means was a super star, she never stopped being Whitney from East Orange, New Jersey. People were shocked when she told Wendy Williams "If this were back in the day in Newark, I'd meet you outside," but that's who she was. That's why she loved Bobby. Not because he was so different from her, but because she could be herself around him. For this reason's, I think Taraji's own lack of affectation, her candor, would lend itself nicely to the role.
Joy Bryant is a strong actress (and Yalie) who's yet to get her big break. This movie could be her Introducing Dorothy Dandridge moment.
And finally, Meagan Good is my wild card. As an actress, it may be a stretch. We've never seen her in a nuanced role since Eves Bayou, and even then, her character was somewhat one-dimensional. Still, the real-life preacher's wife has gone on record to say she wants nothing more than to play the woman who once starred in The Preacher's Wife. Without a doubt, she will campaign for the role and likely be a front runner.