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National Geographic unveiled a first-look national teaser for the scripted anthology series Genius: Aretha, with Cynthia Erivo starring as Aretha Franklin, during the 2020 Oscars telecast Sunday night.
In the 30-second teaser, Erivo is shown in many different looks as she tackles the role of the troubled star who died in 2018 at age 76. At one point in the spot she faces the stage, and the next, she is caught up in a domestic dispute. Black and white images are intercut, exposing the harsh reality of Franklin’s inner life.
“What kind of music do you really want to make, Ms. Franklin?” she is asked by producer Jerry Wexler in the teaser. “I want to make hits,” Erivo’s Franklin declares.
Exploring the professional and personal life of Franklin, the eight-part limited series is set to premiere May 25 and run over four consecutive nights. Additional castmembers include Courtney B. Vance and David Cross.
During the 92nd Oscars, Erivo performed the Oscar-nominated original song “Stand Up,” which appears in the film Harriet. She appeared in a gold dress and sang alone at first, later joined on stage by background performers. For her performance, she received a standing ovation. The actress also received an Oscar nomination for her role as Harriet Tubman in the film.
View the teaser for Genius: Aretha below.