Casting News: 'Widows' Actress Cynthia Erivo to Play Aretha Franklin in 'Genius' Anthology Series
Cynthia Erivo is to play the late, great Aretha Franklin in a TV series featuring many of the Queen of the Soul's best loved hits.
The British actress-singer, currently attracting Oscar buzz for her performance in the biographical drama Harriet, will portray Franklin in season three of National Geographic's Genius anthology series.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series will feature Franklin classics including “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You),” “Chain of Fools,” and “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied).” Erivo will also perform songs from the Franklin back catalog.
Erivo has definitely proven her vocal chops on stage. She starred in the UK touring production of the Sister Act musical in 2011-12 and won a Tony Award in 2016 for her performance in the musical adaptation of The Color Purple. Earlier this year, she was nominated for the BAFTA Rising Star Award following her acclaimed movie appearances in Widows and Bad Times at the El Royale.
"To have the opportunity to bring her legacy to life and show the fullness of her being, her humanity and brilliance is an honor," Erivo said in a statement. "What I know and have learned about what my voice, as an artist, can do and the power it has been highly influenced by Franklin. I feel privileged and excited to be a part of the sharing of her genius."
Franklin's niece Sabrina Owens endorsed the series and Erivo's casting, saying: "For Genius to honor Aretha is a great affirmation of her legacy, and Cynthia Erivo is an extraordinary talent with an amazing voice."
Check out Erivo singing Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)" at a live concert last summer.
Genius: Aretha will air in spring 2020. In the meantime, Harriet, in which Erivo portrays Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist and activist who escaped from slavery and then helped around 70 of her friends and family to do the same, opens in theaters November 1.
Do you think Cynthia Erivo will smash it as the Queen of Soul?