Cynthia Erivo Set to Embody the Queen of Soul in ‘Genius: Aretha’

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Oct 04, 2019

Tony-, Emmy- and Grammy-winning actress Cynthia Erivo is going from playing a freedom fighter (“Harriet”) to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, in the next installment of National Geographic’s “Genius” series, Deadline reported on October 3. Previous “Genius”subjects include Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein. 

“Aretha Franklin has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a little girl,” Erivo told Deadline. “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.”

Reportedly the “first-ever, definitive and only authorized scripted limited series on the life of Franklin,” according to Deadline, “Genius: Aretha” will be led by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and executive producer Suzan-Lori Parks. Music mogul Clive Davis and Atlantic Records chairman and CEO Craig Kallman are also executive producers.

“For ‘Genius’ to honor Aretha is a great affirmation of her legacy, and Cynthia Erivo is an extraordinary talent with an amazing voice,” Franklin’s niece Sabrina Owens told Deadline.

Fans can rest assured that the Franklin’s hits will be prominent in the story, as it will feature chart-toppers like “Chain of Fools,” “Since You’ve Been Gone” and “Baby I Love You,” and include her performances of “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me,” “Freeway of Love” and “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves.” The Imagine Television and Fox 21 TV Studios collaboration will premiere in spring 2020 on Nat Geo in 172 countries and 43 languages.