After getting the role of legendary singer Whitney Houston, Naomi Aki knew she had a job to become a late-night star. The absence of Houston as a resource could serve as a serious obstacle for the Star Wars: Skywalker star. Sunrise”. However, the actress found alternative ways to learn more about the singer “How do I know”, including talking to those who were close to her.
Playing the icon of late pop music was a huge challenge for the star of The Score. Considering that Houston passed away in 2012, Aki couldn’t talk to the artist. She spoke about getting closer to understanding the personality of the late singer during an interview for the podcast Jemele Hill is Unbothered. She recalled reading the memoirs of Houston’s close friend Robin Crawford and Sissy Houston’s mother to better understand the pop star. Despite having read both books, she admitted that she had not spoken to either of the women during the preparation. Although everything changed when she started shooting a musical biopic, as Aki met a lot of people who personally knew the “I will Always Love You” singer.
To be honest, I was pretty privileged when it came to accessing people, and what surprised me the most was that I think it’s because it’s the entertainment industry and I’m shooting in Boston, and it’s, you know, a big movie. A lot of people are involved. I was able to meet so many people who crossed paths with her right on set, and it’s really wonderful when you get to a place where because [you’re] playing Whitney, people want to get that connection back. You know what they came up to me and said: “I met Whitney at that moment and I remember she did x, y and z. and she said it, it made me laugh so much.” You know such things.
Hearing first-hand stories from those who encountered Houston was the perfect resource for the Master of None star. She met Houston personally, despite not being able to talk to the late artist. Aki was wary of her portrayal of Houston, just like the portrayal in the film of her relationship with Crawford in the musical biopic. It seemed important for the promising star after she got a high-profile role.
Boston locals weren’t the only ones Aki was associated with, as her paths crossed with those who played a role in Houston’s long-term career. The 33-year-old actress mentioned that she communicated with key figures, such as Houston mentor Clive Davis and music director Ricky Minor, on and off the set, saying:
Janine Ali, who worked as a makeup artist, actually worked with Whitney on her last tour, and she was there every single day. There was Howard. He was the head of the makeup department and someone who was close to Whitney and was closely associated with Whitney… I’m really lucky, man. Clive Davis, Ricky Minor, I love this man. I love me a little Ricky Minor.
Communicating with instrumental performers from Houston’s heritage helped the film and television actress understand the person behind the star. This seemed to calm her anxiety about playing a singer-actress for the rest of her short life.
Fans will finally see Naomi Aki play Whitney Houston when the movie “I Want to Dance with Someone” Ray hits theaters on December 23. In the meantime, you can also watch some Houston movies.