British-Nigerian broadway star, Cynthia Erivo has been signed on to play the late Aretha Franklin in the upcoming season of Genius: Aretha, for National Geographic, the daily mail has reported.
According to the report on Thursday the Tony winner credited the late musician as a life long inspiration.
Franklin is best known for her very successful career as a soul singer with hits such as Respect and I Say A Little Prayer.
On the new role Cynthia Erivo said:
‘I feel privileged and excited to be a part of the sharing of her genius.
‘Aretha Franklin has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a little girl,’ the English actress said in a statement. ‘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.’
Cynthia rose to fame playing Celie Harris in the Broadway revival of The Color Purple, alongside Jennifer Hudson, that earned her an Emmy, Grammy and Tony.
Original: The biopic season will air on National Geographic in Spring 2020
Star: On the new role Cynthia said ‘I feel privileged and excited to be a part of the sharing of her genius,’ she also credited Aretha as a life-long inspiration ; seen in September
Cynthia Erivo breathtaking in ruffled, cantaloupe gown at TIFF
She is staying busy, alongside her role as Aretha she is also playing Harriet Tubman in the film Harriet, premiering in November, as well as being involved in the upcoming Rip Van Winkle and Needle in a Timestack.
The season will have Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and award winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks on as executive producers, while Parks will also serve as showrunner.
‘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,’ Grazer said about the star.
‘Cynthia Erivo is the perfect person to portray the profoundly human story behind the genius that is Aretha.’
Genius will feature many of the artists hits and her iconic performances including I Knew You Were Waiting for Me and Sister Are Doin It For Themselves.
Aretha’s estate is also on board for the season making it the first and only official production on her life.
Her niece Sabrina Owens said ‘For Genius to honor Aretha is a great affirmation of her legacy, and Cynthia Erivo is an extraordinary talent with an amazing voice.’
It will begin filming in November 2019 and premiere next spring, according to E!.
Genius is an anthology biopic series that premieres in 2017. So far the show has chronicled the lives of Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso, making Aretha’s season the first to follow a woman and a woman of colour.
Known as the Queen of Soul, the singer/songwriter had a spectacular career with 112 singles charting on the Billboard charts and winning 18 Grammy Awards. She is one of the best selling artists in history with more than 75 million records sold worldwide.
She was also the first female performer inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Aretha was posthumously given a special citation by the Pulitzer Prize jury in 2019.
The hitmaker died in 2018 at the age of 76 from pancreatic cancer. She has been married twice, though was not married at the time of her death, and is survived by her four sons, the daily mail had reported.