Yaya DaCasta gives an impressive performance as the late, troubled pop star Whitney Houston in Lifetime's biopic Whitney. The film will premiere on January 17. Whitney marks the directorial debut of actress Angela Bassett, who co-starred with Houston in the 1995 film “Waiting to Exhale.” The fledgling director is no stranger to the biographical film genre. Bassett played music icon Tina Turner in 1993's “What's Love Got to Do With It.” Bassett continues to act, and is currently on view in the scary television series American Horror Story.
Houston, one of the biggest selling female recording acts in history, died at age 48 in 2012. Her career highs and lows included a stormy, unhappy if passionate marriage to R&B sensation Bobby Brown, a history of drug addiction, and rumors that she was "more than just friends" with Robyn Crawford, her lifelong friend and personal assistant.
Crawford, as played by Yolonda Ross, is seen in the Lifetime film. There are indeed hints of the extreme closeness between the two women. But were they lovers? That depends upon who you ask.
Yolonda Ross now chats with SFGN about her role in Whitney.
Are you a Whitney Houston fan?
Yes, I am Have been from the beginning. Whitney, to me, represents a beautiful brown skinned woman that shared her gift with us and shined brightly without limitations. She touched people and I feel the light she exudes is what people walked away with and were drawn too. That's special. I feel that as a fan and as a brown skinned woman in the industry, I can only hope that my work and talents will be in the same way as hers. I want to touch people.
Describe who your character is.
Robyn Crawford was Whitney Houston's friend and assistant since they were teenagers. She was the person you had to go through to get to Whitney during their time of working together.
How did you prepare for the role?
I scoured the Internet for whatever I could find on Robin. Though I had heard about her for years, I never knew what she looked like or sounded like. Even when we were shooting, there was so little to go on for distinct traits of her. So just like with any other part, I took what was in front of me. I played each moment written as that character in whatever the situation was, and took whatever direction Angela gave me. I don't think you can go wrong if you are being true as your actions in the character.
Some people dispute whether or not Whitney ever had a relationship with a woman. What is your response to them?
Not knowing either one of them, knowing only hearsay, I don't think it would be a stretch at all if they were. Having someone you love and can trust is a hard thing to find for anyone, and to get to the level that Whitney was at, I'm sure much harder. I think they would have been lucky to have each other if that was the case because their feelings seemed to be genuine for each other.
Ross told SFGN that she's not had contact with Robyn Crawford and that the Houston family was not speaking about the film. She hopes that people will keep an eye out for her other new film, Lila and Eve, with Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez.
Look for Whitney on Lifetime on January 17.