Kasi Lemmons said she “fought” to include Whitney Houston’s early relationship with childhood friend and former creative director Robyn Crawford in the late singer’s biopic. I want to dance with someone.
Whether the film—produced with the support of the Houston family and estate as well as music producer Clive Davis—would feature the duo’s romance was a subject of near-constant speculation leading up to its release. During the premiere, Davis confirmed that The Hollywood Reporter that it would later “tell you about her sexuality” share with Additional that the film would set the record straight and show that “they had a teenage, year-old affair.”
“There have been so many articles that … have tried to trace her addiction to her being a frustrated lesbian or never dating a man before Bobby, all of which were totally inaccurate,” he added.
It was a relationship I want to dance with someone told director Kasi Lemmons recently The Los Angeles Times — in an interview that also stars Naomi Ackie and Nafessa Williams — she had to sensitively navigate while working with the estate. That meant she didn’t contact Crawford directly and instead relied on stories from people who knew both women, as well as Crawford’s. A song for you: My life with Whitney Houstonto reflect the “profound and important” connection.
“I wanted to, but I didn’t,” Lemmons said, telling the outlet that she knew Crawford had a rocky relationship with the estate. “Because I worked with the estate, I was careful. People’s feelings had to be taken into account.”
In her 2019 memoir, Crawford reaffirmed her relationship with Houston, writing that despite wanting to be together, “She told us to stop being physical because it would make our journey even more difficult.”
It was a relationship beyond framing a romance, exploring the duo’s teenage friendship and eventual professional work in its portrayal. It was something the Houston estate had already agreed to before Lemmons joined the project, originally led by executive producer Stella Meghie, who left as director.
But Lemmons says the kiss itself that takes place between the two requires further negotiation. “I said, ‘Well, they probably kissed. We can really suspect there was a romance,'” she explained. “I think we all know it went beyond friendship at some point.”
“It’s the sweetest kiss. It’s like a first kiss, very romantic,” Lemmons added of the film’s final shot of the physical affection between both women. “And I fought for it.”
While Lemmons wanted to fight for that moment I want to dance with someonethe stars portraying both women — Ackie as Houston, Williams as Crawford — didn’t want to put a label on what the two had.
“Someone asked me about labels, and I don’t feel comfortable answering that question for any of them because they didn’t put labels on it,” Williams told the LA times. “I think they were soul mates.”
“I find it quite interesting that sometimes we tend to put labels on everything, even if the people involved in the relationship don’t themselves,” Ackie added. “That has always been the energy, like there are no words for the love we have for each other. And that was a joy to create.”