First Look Revealed of Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin in ‘Genius: Aretha’

Cynthia Erivo and Aretha Franklin (Credit: John Russo/Handout Photo)

National Geographic and Fox 21 Television Studios released the first image on Friday of Cynthia Erivo as music legend Aretha Franklin in Genius: Aretha.

The photo [see below] shows the Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award-winning actress and singer sitting at a piano preparing to belt out a song.

“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,” Erivo 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,” she added.

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Erivo most recently appeared in the film Harriet, about slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

She’ll be joined on season 3 of Genius by co-stars Courtney B. Vance as C.L. Franklin; David Cross as Jerry Wexler; Malcolm Barrett as Ted White; Patrice Covington as Erma Franklin; Kimberly Hébert Gregory as Ruth Bowen; Rebecca Naomi Jones as Carolyn Franklin; and Sanai Victoria as Little Re.

As previously reported, Emmy, Golden Globe, and BAFTA TV winner Anthony Hemingway will serve as executive producer and director of the eight-part limited series.

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.

Franklin died in August 2018. Genius: Aretha is the first authorized retelling of her life story on TV.

Previous seasons of the Emmy-winning series centered on Albert Einstein (played by Geoffrey Rush) and Pablo Picasso (played by Antonio Banderas).

Genius: Aretha is currently in production and will premiere in May 2020 on National Geographic channel in 172 countries and in 43 languages.

Cynthia Erivo in "Genius: Aretha" (Courtesy: National Geographic/Richard DuCree)
Cynthia Erivo in “Genius: Aretha” (Courtesy: National Geographic/Richard DuCree)

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