Cynthia Erivo stuns as Aretha Franklin in Genius photos, premiere date announced
The newly minted double Oscar nominee‘s turn as Franklin in Genius: Aretha — the third installment of National Geographic’s anthology series — will bow on May 25, kicking off a four-night run of eight consecutive episodes.
EW can also reveal a set of exclusive images featuring Erivo as Franklin, as well as a first look at Courtney B. Vance as Aretha’s father, C.L. Franklin, and Shaian Jordan as young Aretha.
With more than 75 million records sold around the world, Aretha was regarded as one of the most gifted singers of her generation, with 112 hit singles on the Billboard charts, 18 Grammys, and three presidential inauguration performances under her belt. Before her death in 2018, Aretha became the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, evolving into a global superstar from her humble beginnings as a gospel prodigy.
Executive-produced by Emmy winner Anthony Hemingway (American Crime Story, Underground) in partnership with Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, and Franklin’s longtime collaborator Clive Davis, Genius: Aretha dramatizes Franklin’s rise, exploring her professional achievements as well as her “volatile, passionate, and complex personal relationships,” according to an official synopsis.
In addition to Harriet‘s Erivo, Vance, and Jordan, Genius‘ third season also stars Pauletta Washington (She’s Gotta Have It) as Franklin family matriarch Grandmother Rachel, Patrice Covington (The Color Purple) and Rebecca Naomi Jones (The Big Sick) as Aretha’s sisters, Steven Norfleet as Aretha’s brother, and Omar J. Dorsey (Queen Sugar) as James Cleveland, a choir director who joins C.L.’s church and mentors a young Aretha. Malcolm Barrett (Timeless), David Cross (Goliath), Marque Richardson (Dear White People), and Kimberly Hébert Gregory (Vice Principals) costar in additional supporting roles.
Genius: Aretha debuts Monday, May 25 at 9:00 p.m. on National Geographic. See EW’s exclusive photos from the series above and below.