Courtney B. Vance has sign on to play Aretha Franklin’s father, C.L. Franklin, in Nat Geo’s anthology series Genius: Aretha, National Geographic, Imagine Television Studios and Fox 21 Television Studios announced Thursday.
“It’s an honor to join the Genius: Aretha team, and to bring to life the magnificent story of the Queen of Soul,” Vance said in a statement. “Aretha’s father, C.L. Franklin, had a profound impact on her trajectory from a girl in a gospel choir to a global phenomenon-both in a good way and a bad way. I’m eager to dive into his story.”
Vance, an Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor, has previously had roles in The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, Power, State of Affairs, Masters of Sex and a string of films. He joins previously announced star Cynthia Erivo, who will play the Queen of Soul.
Other members of the ensemble cast include Malcolm Barrett, Patrice Covington, Kimberly Hébert Gregory, Rebecca Naomi Jones, and Sanai Victoria.
Emmy, Golden Globe, and BAFTA TV winner Anthony Hemingway will serve as executive producer and director for the season.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks is showrunner. She’ll also executive produce alongside Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, music mogul Clive Davis, Atlantic Records Chairman and CEO Craig Kallman, and Ken Biller of Fox 21 Television Studios and Imagine Television Studios.
Filming will start this December on the eight-episode series, for a spring 2020 premiere on National Geographic channels in 172 countries and in 43 languages.