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Where You've Seen The Cast Of I Wanna Dance With Somebody Before

Whitney Houston left a huge mark on the world of music until her death in 2012. Among the best-selling artists of all time, she is widely regarded as one of the best singers to ever live (via Rolling Stone). With hits such as "I Will Always Love You" and "The Greatest Love of All," she has influenced everyone from Beyoncé to Mariah Carey thanks to her strong vocals, and also won a string of awards, including Emmys, Grammys, and even Guinness World Records. Her career was not just limited to music either, with Houston going on to star in successful films such as "The Bodyguard" with Kevin Costner.

It's little wonder then that there have been so many films, documentaries, and television series based on her life. The latest example is "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," a highly anticipated biopic that takes a deep dive into the life and career of Houston. Featuring a talented cast portraying the various influential and important figures from the singer's life, it is sure to include a few familiar faces that viewers will no doubt recognize from their other work.

If you've seen the film or trailers and wondered where you know the actors from, read on to find out everything you need to know about the biopic's cast. 

Naomi Ackie - Whitney Houston

Naomi Ackie stars in the film as the title character, singer Whitney Houston. British-born Ackie may not seem like the obvious choice to play the New Jersey native, but former director Stella Meghie felt that the actor was the perfect choice after an extensive audition process. Speaking to Deadline, Meghie confirmed that the filmmakers spent more than a year looking for the right person and that "Naomi Ackie impressed us at every stage of the process." Meanwhile, Ackie has said that the role appealed as it was outside of her comfort zone and a terrifying challenge to take on (via Yahoo).

Ackie is probably best known for her role in "The End of the F***ing World," where she joined the cast as the third main character in the second season. Her portrayal of Bonnie in the Netflix comedy won widespread praise and earned her a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2020. Ackie's part in the 2016 British drama film "Lady Macbeth" also saw her nominated for a number of awards and helped bring her to the public's attention.

Outside of those two productions, the actor has been involved in the musical film "The Score" and portrayed the former Stormtrooper Jannah in "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker." She has also had roles in a variety of television series, including guest appearances in "Doctor Who," "Vera," and "Small Axe." In 2021, she was part of the main cast of the U.S. comedy-drama show "Master of None," playing Denise's wife Alicia.

Stanley Tucci - Clive Davis

Clive Davis played a hugely important role in the life of Whitney Houston, acting as her record producer and helping her become one of the best-selling musical artists in history. Stanley Tucci is the man tasked with playing the real-life figure, who also acted as a producer for the film. That may well have been a daunting task for many actors, but Tucci told Entertainment Tonight that Davis made the experience as calming as possible saying, "He was so nice and relaxed, and he was just amazing and made it easy for me."

Tucci is no stranger to playing important figures within the entertainment industry, having previously portrayed director Stanley Kubrick in the film "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers." An experienced actor, Tucci has more than 100 credits to his name and has been nominated for a number of awards, ranging from Academy Awards and Primetime Emmy Awards for his work in the likes of "The Lovely Bones," "ER," and "Monk."

The actor has also had roles in "Captain America: The First Avenger," "The Terminal," and a number of films in "The Hunger Games" series. Performing alongside Meryl Streep, he had roles in both "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Julie & Julia." He has also acted as a producer for the web series "Park Bench with Steve Buscemi" and hosted his own travel and food show in "Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy," which he intends to continue following its cancellation by CNN (via Yahoo).

Ashton Sanders - Bobby Brown

Arguably one of the most significant people in Whitney Houston's life was her husband of 15 years, Bobby Brown. According to Yahoo, Brown admitted in his biography series "Biography: Bobby Brown" that he and Houston had numerous drug problems when they were married and that he was addicted to numerous substances, including cocaine and heroin. Playing Brown in "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" is relative newcomer Ashton Sanders.

Wonderland Magazine reported that Sanders studied at the Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts and upon graduation pursued a career in acting full-time. His first role came in the 2013 Chris Eska-directed film "The Retrieval" and he went on to have brief parts in the NWA biographical film "Straight Outta Compton" and the web series "The Skinny" before landing the part of the teenage version of the protagonist in "Moonlight." The Academy Award-winning coming-of-age drama launched Sanders' career.

In the last few years, he has portrayed Bobby in the Hulu series "Wu-Tang: An American Saga" and voiced Kareem in "The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder." The actor has also starred in films such as "The Equalizer 2," "The Kids Are Alright," and "All Day and a Night."

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Tamara Tunie - Cissy Houston

Tamara Tunie plays Cissy Houston in the film, a singer and performer in her own right but also the mother of Whitney Houston. She had previously acted as a backup singer for a number of high-profile artists, including both Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley, before embarking on her own solo career and playing a pivotal role in Whitney's life. Tunie has told The Hollywood Reporter that the film will show "Whitney's triumphs and the failures, the trials and tribulations, the joy and the sorrow."

A veteran actor who has dozens of credits to her name, Tunie is perhaps best known for her long-running role as lawyer Jessica Griffin in the CBS soap opera "As the World Turns" — a part that she played on and off from 1987 until 2009. The year 1987 also saw her make her film debut in "Wall Street," and she later had roles in "The Peacemaker," "The Devil's Advocate," and "Flight."

Viewers may well know Tunie from her work on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," where she has played medical examiner Melinda Warner since 2000. In more recent years, she has also had guest appearances in shows such as "Better Call Saul," as well as recurring parts in "Cowboy Bebop," "Blue Bloods," and "See."

Nafessa Williams - Robyn Crawford

Nafessa Williams is the woman behind the character of Robyn Crawford in "I Wanna Dance with Somebody." The author and producer previously worked as a creative director for Houston and she was a close friend of the singer, having known her for more than two decades in total (via The Guardian). Crawford had credits as an executive assistant on "The Bodyguard" and Williams has said that she is excited for fans to learn more about Houston's relationship with Crawford, explaining to Entertainment Tonight that "we're about to learn more sides of who she is."

Before choosing a career in acting, Williams studied criminal justice and even interned at a homicide unit before she was cast in the film "Streets" alongside Meek Mill (via The Philadelphia Inquirer). In the same year, she became part of the regular cast of the ABC soap opera "One Life to Live" as Deanna Forbes. Williams subsequently had roles in television series such as "The Bold and the Beautiful" and, fittingly, the biographical film "Whitney."

She portrayed Jade in the revived third season of "Twin Peaks" and was a recurring cast member on "Code Black," playing Dr. Charlotte Piel in the medical drama throughout the second season. DC fans may also know her from the superhero drama "Black Lightning," where she plays Blackbird and won a Teen Choice Award nomination for her performance.

Clarke Peters - John Houston

Another important figure in the life of Whitney Houston is her father John Houston, who is played by actor Clark Peters in the film. The American-British actor is well-known within the industry and has a career that spans five decades. A self-confessed devotee to the theater, Peters has hundreds of screen credits to his name and explained in an interview with Reel 360 how he learned his craft, saying: "The schools I wanted to attend, I couldn't afford. So, I read books. I read every book I could get my hands on. About acting. The stage. Stanislavsky. As soon as I could, I got on the stage."

During the early 1970s, Peters worked as a musician and backup singer in the UK, performing on a number of hit songs, but he also intended to work as an actor (via The Independent). After finding work in theatrical productions, the actor made his film debut in the 1979 movie "The Music Machine." Since then he has become a familiar face on screens, most notably playing Lester Freamon in HBO's "The Wire." More recently, he has had supporting roles in the likes of "John Wick," "Da 5 Bloods," and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri."

Bria Danielle Singleton - Bobbi Kristina Brown

In "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," Bria Danielle Singleton plays the character Bobbi Kristina Brown, another real-life figure from the life of the famous singer. Brown was the daughter of Houston and Bobby Brown and was a television personality, having been involved in numerous productions throughout her life, including the reality series "Being Bobby Brown." She died in an eerily similar manner to her mother, having been discovered submerged in a bathtub after taking several drugs (via BBC).

Speaking to Pop Culturalist, Singleton explained how she feels more comfortable acting despite also being an accomplished singer and dancer. The young actor started her career working in commercials before getting a role in "The Undershepherd" as one of the Strayhorn Twins. She went on to voice the character Bella in the Cartoon Network series "Clarence" and played Nellie in "Better Things."

In 2017, Singleton lent her voice to Beth in the Christmas film "All I Want for Christmas Is You," based on Mariah Carey's song and featuring the talents of Henry Winkler, Phil Morris, and Breanna Yde. Her performance landed her two nominations, and she has since starred in the Netflix film "Thunder Force" as the young version of Octavia Spencer's character Emily.

Daniel Washington - Gary Houston

Young actor Daniel Washington is also appearing in "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" as Gary Houston. Gary is the brother of Whitney Houston and once went by the name Gary Garland. Known for his basketball career, where he played for the Denver Nuggets in the NBA for a single season, he also performed with Whitney many times, acting as a backup singer and duet vocalist throughout her career on several tours (via EOnline).

As a relative newcomer to the world of acting, Washington does not have an extensive list of credits to his name. His first role was as an uncredited security guard in the 2016 film "Ghostbusters," which was followed up with parts in the movie "Detroit" and the television series "Normativity." He later made an appearance in two episodes of "SMILF" and had guest roles in "NOS4A2" and "Defending Jacob." More recently, Washington was part of the cast of the television series "The Expecting," playing the character Lance in four episodes, and had a part in "The Tender Bar" alongside Ben Affleck and Christopher Lloyd.

Naheem Garcia - New Hope Pastor

Naheem Garcia plays a pastor at the New Hope Baptist Church, the family church of the singer and an important institution in her life (via Rolling Stone). Houston was also known to perform at the Newark church, so it makes sense that it would also feature in "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" as it is a biopic about her whole life.

The actor is not a major name in the world of Hollywood, but still has a wide array of credits to his name. His first screen role came back in 2009 when he played a shipping supervisor in "The Heist," which was followed up with parts in the likes of "The Love Guide" and "Knockaround Kids." Garcia has also made appearances in films such as "R.I.P.D.," where he played a police officer, and "The Equalizer 2" — a 2018 sequel that once again starred Denzel Washington.

Over the last few years, he has had roles in the Ryan Reynolds comedy "Free Guy" and the Disney+ exclusive movie "Hocus Pocus 2." Outside of acting, Garcia has also worked as an activist, using the arts to improve the life of underprivileged kids in his local community (via the Real Talk in the Commonwealth Podcast).

Tanner Beard - Günther

Tanner Beard plays Günther, a character that little is known about so far, meaning fans will have to wait until "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" releases later in December to see exactly what role they will play in Houston's life. The actor portraying the character is an experienced name in both film and television. Beard is not just an actor either. Over the course of his career, he has been involved in almost every aspect of filmmaking, from writing to directing, and has even worked as a producer (via Horror Obsessive). He is also the co-founder of the Mammoth Film Festival and CEO of his own production company Silver Sail Entertainment (via Stage 32).

Viewers may well recognize Beard from a number of projects. He played Gerald in the 2014 television series "From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series" alongside a number of stars, such as D. J. Cotrona and Zane Holtz. Earlier appearances include "The Princess Diaries 2" and "All In," as well as a role in "Hidden in the Woods." Perhaps his most high-profile part was in the 2019 horror film "We Summon the Darkness," where he played Sheriff Dembrowski alongside the likes of Keean Johnson and Johnny Knoxville.

Kris Sidberry - Pat Houston

Although she is not as well known as some of the other real-life figures from "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," Pat Houston was instrumental to the success of Whitney Houston as she acted as her manager as well as her sister-in-law (via Yahoo). According to Vanity Fair, she previously contributed to the documentary "Whitney" and as executor of the late singer's estate essentially controls access to her archives and assets (via Billboard). Actor Kris Sidberry has the responsibility of portraying Pat Houston in the latest biopic.

Didberry doesn't have that many screen credits to her name, meaning that many of those watching "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" may not have seen her before. However, she has appeared in many theatrical productions during her career, such as "The Cake" and "By The Way" (via Broadway World). On television, she has had roles in everything from "617 the Series" to "Broad Squad" and played a bank worker in the HBO Max series "Julia." Meanwhile, Sidberry also had a part in the film "Slender Man" as a librarian, and played a newscaster in "The Forger” in 2014.