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Cynthia Erivo Set To Play Aretha Franklin In Nat Geo Scripted Series About Her Life

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Cynthia Erivo is set to play another prominent African-American woman. The Broadway star is set to play Aretha Franklin in an upcoming limited series via Nat Geo. Details inside….

Cynthia Erivo just nabbed another role where she will play another prominent African-American woman.

After signing on to play Harriet Tubman in an upcoming biopic, the Broadway starlet will reportedly play legendary singer Aretha Franklin in season three of Nat Geo’s EMMY winning anthology series “Genius.”

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“Genius: Aretha” is billed as the first-ever, definitive and only authorized scripted limited series on the life of the musical icon. It will chronicle Aretha’s incredible music career, her musical genius and the impact she made on music and culture around the world.

The Tony Award winner will also perform songs from Aretha’s legendary catalogue. Several of the singer’s biggest hits will also be featured in the series, including "I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)," "Chain of Fools," "Don't Play That Song" and "Baby I Love You," along with her performances of "Freeway of Love," "I Knew You Were Waiting for Me" and "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves."

Not only that, her activism for civil rights will also be featured.

"Aretha Franklin has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a little girl," said Erivo. "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 it has been highly influenced by Franklin. I feel privileged and excited to be a part of the sharing of her genius."

Executive producer Brian Grazer dubbed Cynthia as the perfect person to portray the musical icon.

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

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However, some folks would disagree. The British star caught a lot of backlash for playing Harriet Tubman.

Some folks aren't here for a British woman playing a role an American black woman could and maybe should play when it’s already hard enough for dark skinned American black women to get roles. Some feel it's culturally insensitive to have chosen a black British woman rather than an American descendant of slaves to play the iconic abolitionist. A #HarrietDeservesBetter hashtag was trending on social media where people have voiced loudly and clearly their issue with Cynthia copping the role.

Also, shady tweets Cynthia posted on Twitter were dug up and they didn’t help her case at all. She was talking greasy on social media about "ghetto Americans,” she co-signed a comment about African Americans having no culture and she even mentioned black Americans have appropriated African culture. You can catch up on all of that HERE.

Filming for “Genius: Aretha” starts in November and its expected to premiere in Spring 2020 on National Geographic channels in 172 countries and 43 languages.


In case you were wondering...


Yes, Jennifer Hudson is still playing Aretha Franklin in the upcoming biopic about the singer's life. Videos of her during rehearsals popped up online and, of course, JHud's vocals are A1! Take a listen above.

The upcoming biopic film titled RESPECT is set to begin shooting this fall.

Photos: MEGA/Getty

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