National Geographic has announced that five actors have joined the cast of the global anthology series, Genius: Aretha.

What’s happening:

  • National Geographic, Imagine Television Studios and Fox 21 Television Studios, announced today the cast joining the global anthology series, Genius: Aretha
  • It was previously announced that Cynthia Erivo (Harriet, Broadway's The Color Purple) would take on the role of Aretha Franklin in the series.
  • Anthony Hemingway (Power, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) has been tapped to serve as executive producer and direct the pilot episode.
  • Genius will feature eight-episodes and is the first-ever, definitive and only authorized scripted limited series on the life of the universally acclaimed Queen of Soul
  • Filming will start later this year for a spring 2020 premiere on National Geographic channels in 172 countries and 43 languages.

Malcolm Barrett, Patrice Covington

Malcolm Barrett, Patrice Covington

The cast of Genius: Aretha includes:

  • Malcolm Barrett (Timeless, Preacher)
  • Patrice Covington (Broadway's The Color Purple)
  • Kimberly Hébert Gregory (Vice Principals)
  • Rebecca Naomi Jones (The Big Sick)
  • Sanai Victoria (Black-ish)

Kimberly Hébert Gregory, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Sanai Victoria

Kimberly Hébert Gregory, Rebecca Naomi Jones, Sanai Victoria

About the characters:

  • Barrett joins as Ted White, Aretha's first husband and business manager, who develops relationships with songwriters and producers and picks some of her biggest hits. But as Aretha gains fame, White's heavy drinking and volatile behavior ends their marriage.
  • Covington and Jones will portray Erma and Carolyn Franklin, respectively, Aretha's sisters, who are both talented performers in their own right and sing backup for Aretha.
  • Hébert Gregory will play Ruth Bowen, a pioneer in her field, the head of a successful black-owned agency, who represents Aretha, booking her into world-class venues and getting her onto the covers of Time and Ebony magazines.
  • Victoria will be Little Re (young Aretha), the shy, immensely talented daughter of celebrated Detroit preacher Clarence LaVaughn (C.L.) Franklin, who thrusts her into the spotlight at a very young age.

About Anthony Hemingway

  • Hemingway directed and executive produced Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G., The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and Underground.
  • His among his many credits, Hemingway has worked on:
    • The Wire
    • Treme
    • Empire
    • American Horror Story
    • Red Tails (feature film debut) 
  • Hemingway’s awards include:
    • AAFCA Horizon Award
    • Emmy
    • Golden Globe
    • PGA
    • NAACP
    • BAFTA

About the series:

  • Genius dramatizes the fascinating stories of the world's most brilliant innovators, exploring their extraordinary achievements along with their volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships.
  • The third season of the anthology series will explore Franklin's musical genius and incomparable career, as well as the immeasurable impact and lasting influence she has had on music and culture around the world.

Creative team:

  • Suzan-Lori Parks executive producer and showrunner
  • Executive produced by:
    • Brian Grazer
    • Ron Howard
    • Clive Davis
    • Craig Kallman
    • Francie Calfo (Genius, Empire)
    • Ken Biller (Genius: Einstein, Genius: Picasso)
    • Gigi Pritzker
    • Rachel Shane (MWM Studios)
    • Sam Sokolow (Nice Media Studios)
    • Diana Son
  • Produced by:
    • Anna Culp
    • Peter Afterman