Nat Geo and Imagine have found their Queen of Soul. Tony-, Emmy- and Grammy-winning artist and actress Cynthia Erivo (Harriet, The Color Purple) has been tapped to star as Aretha Franklin in the next installment of Nat Geos Emmy-winning global anthology series Genius: Aretha, from Imagine Television and Fox 21 TV Studios.
Billed as the first-ever, definitive and only authorized scripted limited series on the life of Franklin, Genius: Aretha will begin filming in November for a spring 2020 premiere on National Geographic channels in 172 countries and 43 languages.
As previously announced, Suzan-Lori Parks, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Topdog/Underdog, will be executive producer and showrunner of the series. Music mogul and longtime Franklin collaborator Clive Davis as well as Atlantic Records chairman and CEO Craig Kallman also executive produce.
“Aretha Franklin has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a little girl,” said Erivo. “Her strength, passion and soul are evident in her everlasting legacy, not only as a transcendent artist, but as a humanitarian and civil rights icon. To have the opportunity to bring her legacy to life and show the fullness of her being, her humanity and brilliance, is an honor. What I know and have learned about what my voice, as an artist, can do and the power in it has been highly influenced by Franklin. I feel privileged and excited to be a part of the sharing of her genius.”
The production will feature many of Franklins biggest hits from the Warner Music catalogue, including “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” “Chain of Fools,” “Dont Play That Song,” “Since Youve Been Gone” and “Baby I Love You.” In addition, the series will feature Franklins performances of “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me,” “Freeway of Love” and “Sisters Are Doin It for Themselves.” Erivo will also be performing songs from Franklins rich catalogue. (You can watch her sing as part of an Aretha Franklin tribute below.)
“Cynthia Erivo blew me away. Not only is she an incredible and bona fide star, but she is soulful and has tremendous depth as a musical artist,” said Imagines Brian Grazer. “Cynthia is the perfect person to portray the profoundly human story behind the genius that is Aretha.”
The third season of the anthology series will explore Franklins musical genius and incomparable career, as well as the immeasurable impact and lasting influence she has had on music and culture around the world. Grammy Award winner Franklin was a gospel prodigy and outspoken civil rights champion and is widely considered to be the greatest singer of the past 50 years, receiving countless honors throughout her career.
“For Genius to honor Aretha is a great affirmation of her legacy, and Cynthia Erivo is an extraordinary talent with an amazing voice!,” said. Franklins niece Sabrina Owens.
Erivo is a Tony-, Daytime Emmy- and Grammy-winning actress and singer who burst onto West End and Broadway stages in The Color Purple. (Erivo and the cast of The Color Purple won a Daytime Emmy for their performance on NBCs Today.) On the big screen, Erivo will next star in Kasi Lemmons Harriet, in the title role as heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman. In TV, she will star in HBOs The Outsider, based on the Stephen King novel. She will also star alongside Daisy Ridley and David Oyelowo in the sci-fi thriller Chaos Walking, from director Doug Liman, and in John Ridleys Needle in a Timestack alongside Orlando Bloom, Freida Pinto and LRead More – Source