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Ashton Sanders Talks ‘Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody’, Portraying Bobby Brown & More – Interview

Whitney Houston was a once-in-a-lifetime icon, and now her story hits the big screen this year with the Kasi Lemmons-directed biopic Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody. The film places Naomi Ackie as the titular entertainer we call “The Voice” as we get a more intimate look at her rise to stardom. 

One element of Houston’s life was her high-profile relationship with R&B bad boy Bobby Brown, played by Ashton Sanders in the film. One of the pioneers of the new jack swing sound, Brown got his start in music with the R&B/pop band New Edition. Once he went solo, he found more commercial success with chart-dominating songs and several music accolades. 

Brown and Houston were married from 1992 to 2007 when Houston filed for divorce. The tumultuous relationship became the talk of numerous tabloids, and we’re sure that we’ll see much of it unfold within this biopic. 

Check out the interview with Ashton Sanders below:

Sanders’ star has been on the rise since his lauded role in Moonlight as Chiron. Geeks of Color spoke with Sanders about his role in the film, his thoughts on portraying Brown, and what it was like filming with acclaimed director Kasi Lemmons. 

In reference to portraying Brown, Sanders said, “After you put aside the initial nerves of playing somebody real, you’re able to focus on the art. And so, I just wanted to be as authentic as possible in my portrayal to Bobby Brown. I wanted to stay away from stigmas and stereotypes that have been put on him by the media.”

Sanders had nothing but praise for director Kasi Lemmons and said, “Kasi is awesome! For one, the experience with working with her was just different–I think, just different energy. And, this film is led by Black women for the most part, so I mean just being able to collaborate, to get in her head, was really special. I think the way she talks to actors is something that’s commendable, and it’s easy to work with and work off of, especially for something that’s so pointed and specific as this story. So, it was great. I love Kasi.”

Lastly, Sanders told us what he hopes viewers get from the film. Sanders shared, “I hope that people watch the film and feel a sense of nostalgia. I hope that people get their fix that they have been needing with this story from every angle. From the music that’s in the film from the exploration of relationships–whether that’s her and Robin, her and her mother, her and Bobby, her and her father, her and Clive, whatever it may be. I hope that there’s something in it for everybody and people are able to walk away full.”

Be sure to see Ashton Sanders in I Wanna Dance With Somebody in theaters now!

Ashton Sanders - Bobby Brown in I Wanna Dance With Somebody
Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston and Ashton Sanders as Bobby Brown in I Wanna Dance With Somebody. (Courtesy of TriStar Pictures/Sony Pictures Releasing)

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