Cynthia Erivo cast as Aretha Franklin in series exploring Queen of Soul's life

Franklin, one of the best-selling artists of all time, died last year at the age of 76.

British actress Cynthia Erivo has been cast as Aretha Franklin in a series exploring the life of the late soul singer.

Titled Genius: Aretha, producers say it will be the first and only authorised scripted series telling the Queen of Soul’s story.

It will feature many of Franklin’s biggest hits, including Chain Of Fools, Don’t Play That Song and Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves, with Erivo performing many of the songs.

Cynthia Erivo
Cynthia Erivo has been cast as Aretha Franklin (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Franklin, a civil rights activist and one of the best-selling artists of all time, died in August last year at the age of 76.

Erivo, a Tony, Emmy and Grammy award-winning actress, said she was “privileged” to play her.

She said: “Aretha Franklin has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a little girl. 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.

“To have the opportunity to bring her legacy to life and show the fullness of her being, her humanity and brilliance, is an honour.

Aretha Franklin
Aretha Franklin was one of the best-selling artists of all time (Ian West/PA)

“What I know and have learned about what my voice, as an artist, can do and the power in it has been highly influenced by Franklin.

“I feel privileged and excited to be a part of the sharing of her genius.”

Filming for Genius: Aretha starts in November ahead of a spring 2020 premiere, producers National Geographic said.

The Genius anthology series dramatises the lives of notable people, with previous instalments featuring Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso.

London-born Erivo, 32, won critical acclaim for her star turn in the 2015 Broadway revival of The Color Purple and will play  the title role in Harriet, a biopic of slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman, due for release in November.

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