Nat Geo’s ‘Genius: Aretha’ Offers First Look Of Cynthia Erivo As Queen Of Soul

Cynthia Erivo is transformed into the late, great Queen of Soul in a first-look photo from Genius: Aretha, the upcoming biographical series from National Geographic and Fox 21 Television Studios.

See the photo below.

Erivo, a Tony Award winner for Broadway’s 2015 The Color Purple and the star of this year’s Harriet Tubman biopic Harriet, will play Aretha Franklin in the third installment of the series (following seasons devoted to Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso).

“Over the last few months,” said Erivo, “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. I’m truly humbled to be working alongside a very talented and musical team. Together, we’ll serve the Queen and create something special.”

Also featured in the cast are Courtney B. Vance as patriarch 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.

The eight-part limited series, premiering on National Geographic in May 2020, will be the first authorized scripted series about Franklin, tracing her life from gospel prodigy though civil rights champion and on to her uncontested status as one of the greatest singers of the 20th Century.

For this third Genius season, Imagine will partner with Warner Music Entertainment, with Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard exec producing. Suzan-Lori Parks is showrunner and executive producer and Anthony Hemingway is executive producer and producing director. Also on the executive producer roster are record producer Clive Davis, Atlantic Records Chairman and CEO Craig Kallman, Francie Calfo, Ken Biller, Gigi Pritzker and Rachel Shane (MWM Studios), Sam Sokolow (EUE/Sokolow) and Diana Son. Imagine’s Anna Culp serves as producer alongside Peter Afterman.

Judging from the clothes and hairstyle, the first-look photo depicts Erivo as a late-1960’s-era Aretha. Check it out:

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