Canadian director Stella Meghie is taking on an iconic subject for her next project.
Meghie has confirmed to ET Canada that she will be helming the upcoming Whitney Houston biopic “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”.
The filmmaker talked about her involvement in the film in an interview with us earlier this year.
“I grew up loving her, so it’s really just a privilege to be able to be a part off extending her legacy,” the director said, adding, “We just all want to celebrate her.”
Talking about her favourite Houston songs, Meghie referenced the singer’s 1985 song “You Give Good Love”.
“Probably one of my favourites, one of my earliest memories of Whitney,” she said. “And I put that song in ‘The Photograph’ as well.”
While it was early to talk about casting for the iconic role, Meghie said, “As a director you’re just searching for someone who will capture that essence.”
On Tuesday, Entertainment Tonight confirmed the film has landed at Sony Pictures following a reportedly intense bidding war between studios, and the production will be overseen by representatives of the Whitney Houston estate, including Nicole Brown, Shary Shirazi, and Brittney Morrisey. It is set for a November 2022 release.
Earlier this year, Meghie released her romantic drama “The Photograph”, starring Issa Rae as Mae Morton, the estranged daughter of a famous photographer, who sparks up a romance with a journalist, played by Lakeith Stanfield, investigating a story about her mother.
Meghie spoke to ET Canada about the on-set chemistry between Rae and Stanfield, bringing her past in the fashion industry to the film and living through the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think everybody is just taking it day by day,” Meghie said of the lockdown. “So I’m just really waiting to hear when it’s going to be safe. Until everyone’s like, we can do it safely. Until then, there’ll be no cameras up.”
She also revealed she’s still using her time to be productive, saying “I’m writing different projects. So it just shifted to the writing side of things.”
Getting to work with Rae on “The Photograph” was one of the highlights of the project for Meghie.
“I met Issa when I did an episode of season 3 [of “Insecure’], and it was the first time we met. I’ve been a fan of hers and a fan of the show,” she recalled. “So preparing to get ready to do ‘The Photograph’. That was someone who I started thinking about, and she looked at the script and was excited about doing the project. And it came together really quickly with her.”
Meghie added, “I mean, we have, I think a really good dynamic on set. She’s just very easy to work with, you know, very talented, very professional. Really we have a lot of fun together. She’s someone I’ve enjoyed working with, and I did another episode of her show as well.”
One of the other highlights of the film, including for romance fans, was chemistry between Rae and Stanfield.
“The chemistry between Issa and Lakeith to me felt very instant,” Meghie said. “Lakeith and I flew down to Louisiana when she was down there, working on another movie, just to kind of read through a few scenes in the script and see if we all clicked and as soon as they started talking and doing their first date scene it was very obvious to all of us that it was gonna work.”
One of the most important things in Meghie’s career has been the support she’s received from all kinds of places, including publicly from stars like Lena Waithe and Regina King on social media.
“I’ve had a lot of support over the years, you know. The [Canadian Film Centre] and Telefilm Canada both supported me with [my debut] ‘Jean of the Joneses’,” she said. “I’m lucky, I think, in the community in Los Angeles just with people who who have supported, you know… and then from people like Kenya Barris and Lena. Everyone has been very supportive who I’ve been able to work with.”
Before directing features, Meghie started her career in the fashion world, and that experience also seeped into her films.
“I love fashion. I started out interning at Women’s Wear Daily and doing PR for Brooks Brothers. So it’s always kind of been a part of my education,” she said. “And for ‘The Photograph’, it was just really important to me how how Mae looked. I thought she’d be very polished, you know, she comes from the art world. And her looks were a somewhat expensive price point, but I just wanted her to feel very kind of… The whole movie is very saturated. A lot of her looks very dark in New York, until we get to Louisiana, and she kind of brightens up and the colour palette becomes, and the yellow dress, and the creamier blouses.”
Meghie also talked about the comparisons that have been made between “The Photograph” and Theodore Witcher’s classic 1997 romance “Love Jones”, which starred Nia Long and Larenz Tate.
“I’m proud to be mentioned alongside of it. I think they’re both their own films, but ‘Love Jones’ is a movie that I watched many times over the years,” Meghie said. “Theodore Witcher is a fantastic director who gave us a film that helped create the canon of romantic drama. It’s definitely in my canon of romantic dramas.”