CASTING NEWS: Cynthia Erivo will play the Queen of Soul in ‘Genius: Aretha’

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Fresh off of her portrayal of Harriet Tubman in Harriet, Cynthia Erivo is set to portray Aretha Franklin in the third season of Nat Geo’s anthology series.

Genius: Aretha will begin filming next month and is set for release in April 2020. The series is described as “the first-ever, definitive and only authorized scripted limited series on the life of the universally acclaimed Queen of Soul.”

Brian Grazer and Ron Howard will executive produce the series along with Suzan-Lori Parks, who will also serve as the showrunner.

“Aretha Franklin has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a little girl,” Cynthia Erivo 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. I feel privileged and excited to be a part of the sharing of her genius.”

Aretha Franklin biopic started filming in Georgia with Jennifer Hudson

Brian Grazer explained his decision to cast the British beauty in the role.

“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,” he said. “Cynthia is the perfect person to portray the profoundly human story behind the genius that is Aretha.”

Past seasons of the Genius series highlighted Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein.

Check out the official description:

Genius dramatizes the fascinating stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators, exploring their extraordinary achievements along with their volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships. The third season of the anthology series will explore Franklin’s musical genius and incomparable career, as well as the immeasurable impact and lasting influence she has had on music and culture around the world. Grammy Award winner Franklin was a gospel prodigy and outspoken civil rights champion and is widely considered to be the greatest singer of the past 50 years, receiving countless honors throughout her career.


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