Rebecca Naomi Jones, who currently stars as Laurey in the Tony-winning Broadway revival of Oklahoma!, has been tapped for Genius: Aretha, the upcoming Nat Geo limited series exploring the life and legacy of Aretha Franklin. As previously reported, Tony winner and Harriet star Cynthia Erivo will play the title Queen of Soul.
Also joining the cast are Malcolm Barrett as Ted White, Kimberly Hébert Gregory as Ruth Bowen, and Sanai Victoria as young Aretha.
Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks serves as showrunner and executive produces with Clive Davis and Craig Kallman. The series, from Imagine Television and Fox 21 TV Studios, follows Genius' explorations of Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso and is expected to premiere in spring 2020.
Meanwhile, a feature film biopic on Franklin is in the works, with Erivo's The Color Purple co-star Jennifer Hudson (soon to be seen in Cats) playing the singer. The cast will also include Tony winner Audra McDonald, Saycon Sengbloh, Tituss Burgess, Hailey Kilgore, and yet another Tony-winning Color Purple veteran: Heather Headley.