Cynthia Erivo to play Aretha Franklin in ‘Genius’ anthology series

Oh, this is exciting!

Cynthia Erivo has been announced as the star of the next Genius anthology series about Aretha Franklin.

The British actress, known for her work in 2018 film Widows and Broadway shows The Color Purple and Sister Act (UK tour), will star as the late ‘Queen of Soul’ in the forthcoming limited series.

Genius, an anthology series which has won Emmys for previous productions including Genius: Picasso (starring Antonio Banderas) and Genius: Albert Einstein (starring Geoffrey Rush) will air on National Geographic.


Suzan-Lori Parks, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Topdog/Underdog, is the Aretha Franklin series’ executive producer and showrunner.

Fox 21 Television Studios, the studio behind The People v. OJ as well as the two prior award-winning Genius seasons, returns to produce Genius: Aretha Franklin.

National Geographic said it will premiere the series in early 2020. Filming is expected to start this year.

Soul singer Aretha Franklin sings in the Atlantic Records studio during ‘The Weight’ recording session on January 9, 1969 in New York City, New York

Among the songs to be featured in the series are: ‘I Knew You Were Waiting for Me’, ‘Freeway of Love’, ‘Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves,’ ‘I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),’ ‘Chain of Fools,’ and ‘Baby I Love You.’


In other news, back in May, Franklin’s will was discovered wedged under sofa cushions.

The singer’s niece Sabrina Owens found the documents and filed them in court. It was widely reported at the time of Franklin’s death in August 2018 that she hadn’t left a will.