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Cynthia Erivo Tapped to Play Aretha Franklin as National Geographic’s ‘Genius’ Series Turns to Late Queen of Soul

Cynthia Erivo will be playing Aretha Franklin in National Geographic’s “Genius: Aretha,” after securing the role of Harriet Tubman in the film “Harriet.”

“Genius: Aretha” is reportedly the first scripted limited series on Franklin that’s been authorized by the late singer’s estate. And it’ll have Franklin’s songs from her Warner Music catalog, like “Baby I Love You,” “Chain of Fools,” “Since You’ve Been Gone” and “Don’t Play That Song.”

Cynthia Erivo ( left) will portray Aretha Franklin (Right) in an upcoming National Geographic series. (Photo: J. Countess / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images / Michael Ochs Archives / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images)

Erivo will be performing some of the songs as well, and in a press statement the 32-year-old said she’s been a longtime fan of Franklin — not just for her musical prowess but also for her involvement in social causes.

“Aretha Franklin has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a little girl,” said the actress and singer. “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 honor,” she added.

Deadline reports that shooting for the series will begin in November, and the premiere is expected to be in spring of 2020.

And as far as whether Erivo has the singing ability to portray Franklin, she’s proved herself at “Black Girls Rock” in 2018 by performing “I Say a Little Prayer.”

She’s also an accomplished singer in her own right and has appeared on a string of singles and released the album “Cynthia Erivo and Oliver Tompsett Sing Scott Alan” in 2015.

In a statement, Franklin’s niece and head of her estate, Sabrina Owens, said Erivo is the ideal person to play her aunt.

“For ‘Genius’ to honor Aretha is a great affirmation of her legacy, and Cynthia Erivo is an extraordinary talent with an amazing voice,” Owens stated.

Franklin passed away in Detroit from neuroendocrine cancer on August 16, 2018, at the age of 76.

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