Albert Einstein. Pablo Picasso. And now, joining these two notable figures in being documented in the National Geographic biographical anthology series Genius, is the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. We’ve got the first image from Genius: Aretha featuring incredible actor Cynthia Erivo (Harriet, Widows) playing the revolutionary musician.
And Erivo takes this role seriously. “Over the last few months, I’ve been preparing myself to embody the Queen of Soul, from relistening to her music to discovering her rare interviews and reading some amazing books on her — all to really capture Aretha’s attitude and spirit,” she said in a statement. “I’m truly humbled to be working alongside a very talented and musical team. Together, we’ll serve the Queen and create something special.” Alongside Erivo will be eclectic castmates like Courtney B. Vance (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) and David Cross (Arrested Development). Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are executive producers, while Suzan-Lori Parks serves as showrunner. While Jennifer Hudson will be playing Franklin in a forthcoming big-screen treatment of the singer, Erivo’s television take still sounds interesting, reverent, and entertaining. And you know Erivo more than has the pipes to take on the material.
Check out the first look of Erivo playing Aretha below, alongside Genius: Aretha‘s official synopsis. The series debuts on National Geographic in May 2020. For more on Cynthia Erivo, here’s our reviews of Harriet, Widows, and Bad Times at the El Royale.
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, in the first-ever, definitive and only authorized scripted limited series on the life of the universally acclaimed Queen of Soul. Grammy Award winner Franklin was a gospel prodigy and outspoken civil rights champion; she is widely considered to be the greatest singer of the past 50 years, receiving countless honors throughout her career.