British actress Cynthia Erivo will play ‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin for an upcoming season of ‘Genius’ for the National Geographic.
“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.
She added: “To have the opportunity to bring her legacy to life and show the fullness of her being, her humanity and brilliance, is an honour. 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 upcoming season, titled ‘Genius: Aretha,’ will be the first, definitive and only authorised scripted limited series centred on the life of titular Grammy Award winner and musical icon.
The series will include many of Franklin’s biggest recordings from the comprehensive Warner Music catalogue, including ‘I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),’ ‘Chain of Fools,’ ‘Don’t Play That Song,’ ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ and ‘Baby I Love You.’
Additionally, the series will feature Franklin’s performances of ‘I Knew You Were Waiting for Me’, ‘Freeway of Love’ and ‘Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves.’ Erivo will be performing many of these songs.
“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 executive producer Brian Grazer.
Grazer added: “Cynthia is the perfect person to portray the profoundly human story behind the genius that is Aretha.”