Actress Naomi Ackie has spoken out about the lack of parts “for black people and people of colour in general”, as she has discussed her career in the film and TV industry.
As a British-born black actress, Ackie has addressed the potential backlash she faces for portraying the late African-American singer as she has directed this issue towards the bigger problem of fewer opportunities given to black actresses.
Ackie said in a recent interview that there are “not enough parts for black people and people of colour in general”, leading to frustration over roles received.
“So really, the problem isn’t with me playing Whitney, the problem is with the higher-ups not investing in the right places,” Ackie told OK magazine.
“Obviously, that is a really big thing. But what I also understand is me, as a black woman being in this industry, I am going to p*** off some people.”
The actress continued: “Am I worried? Yeah, but I’m trying to do this thing where I don’t worry about what people think about me any more. Because what am I going to do? I’ll deal with it when it comes.”
Prior to securing the role of Houston, Walthamstow-bred Ackie had established a successful acting career working on such globally popular projects as the Star Wars franchise, Doctor Who and Netflix’s The End of the F***ing World.
The actress admitted she “overdid it when it came to research” after learning she would be playing Houston in the biopic, released 10 years after her death in 2012.
Whitney Houston - In pictures
Ackie shared that preparing for the part “took a toll on my mental health”, as she was determined to be as honest as she could be in her portrayal of the singer.
“I knew [the script] off by heart and it was becoming something that I was scared to look at,” she said.
“The research and looking at Whitney’s videos – I think I’ve seen every single one on YouTube countless times – became like a prison.
“It took a toll on my mental health.”
In doing the role, Ackie realised that “perfectionism is a dangerous thing”, that performers continue to “struggle” with.
She added: “The biggest thing for me was going, ‘OK, once you’re 70 per cent there with the accent and once you’re 70 per cent there with the body and 70 per cent there with the character work, the rest of it can’t be perfect. It shouldn’t be perfect.’”