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Cynthia Erivo to Play Aretha Franklin in 'Genius: Aretha'

National Geographic put a face behind the lead of their Aretha Franklin film.

Grammy-winning artist and actress Cynthia Erivo will be playing Aretha in the network's production of Genius: Aretha. Deadline explained the program is a scripted series narrating the life of the late-singer. Clive Davis is billed to an executive producer, as well as Atlantic Record's Chairman and CEO Craig Kallman. Cynthia, who's earned acknowledgement for her roles in The Color Purple and Harriet, gained the awe of Imagine Television's (a partner within the project) Brian Grazer.

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

She expressed her excitement to represent an iconic figure, like Aretha, in a statement:

“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. 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.”

Genius: Aretha is expected to debut in Spring 2020 on National Geographic in 43 languages within 172 countries!

Photo: Getty