Aretha Franklin’s Estate Approves Cynthia Erivo To Play Her In New Series – Essence

Cynthia Erivo Cast As Aretha Franklin In ‘Genius’
Photo by J. Countess/Getty Images

Cynthia Erivo is set to take on yet another icon. The British actress will play the late Aretha Franklin in Nat Geo’s upcoming series, Genius: Aretha.

Erivo received approval from Franklin’s estate to play the iconic singer, who passed away in 2018, in a series that will explore the life of the legendary singer.

“For Genius to honor Aretha is a great affirmation of her legacy, and Cynthia Erivo is an extraordinary talent with an amazing voice,” Franklin’s niece, Sabrina Owens, said in a statement.

The Tony Award-winning actress said in a statement that she’s long been an admirer of Franklin.

“Aretha Franklin has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a little girl. 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,” Erivo said.

“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,” she continued.

Aretha Franklin Singing On Muhammad Ali Variety Special
Los Angeles, CA – May 1975: Aretha Franklin on Muhammad Ali Variety Special, May 16, 1975. (Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

The series, which will premiere in the Spring of 2020, has tapped Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks as executive producer and showrunner. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer will executive produce alongside Parks.

Erivo recently portrayed Harriet Tubman in Harriet, hitting theaters on Nov. 1, and will next be seen in Chaos Walking and Needle in a Timestack.

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