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Whitney Houston & Robyn Crawford

Source: Dave Hogan / Getty


Kasi Lemmons, the director of Whitney Houston’s biopic I Wanna Dance With Somebody, said she “fought” for producers to highlight the late singer’s romantic relationship with childhood friend Robyn Crawford.

During an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Lemmons, 61, went into further detail about her decision to peel back the layers of Houston’s long-rumored romance with Crawford. Houston’s estate agreed to include the complicated love story in the film prior to joining the project in 2021. However, the family expressed concern when Lemmons notified them about Houston and Crawford’s kiss scene.

“They have feelings, and those feelings have to be respected,” the award-winning director said. “To their immense credit they said, ‘OK, this was part of Whitney’s life. This can be part of the movie.’”

“I said, ‘Well, presumably they kissed. We really can surmise that there was a romance there,’” Kasi Lemmons added. “I think we all know that at one point it was beyond just friendship.”


Whitney Houston & Robyn Crawford’s love story

I Wanna Dance With Somebody, which debuted in theatres Dec. 23, follows Houston’s iconic rise to stardom and her turbulent challenges with substance abuse. Houston’s romance with Crawford is revealed toward the beginning of the film after they meet while working as camp counselors around 1980. As she hones in on her musical skills under the guidance of gospel-singer, Cissy, the star privately falls in love with Crawford. But ultimately, Houston is forced to end the romance due to the demands of her rising career and the disapproval of her father.

In Crawford’s 2019 memoir, A Song for You: My Life with Whitney Houston, she opened up about her relationship with Houston, writing that while they wanted to be together, the late singer said she “didn’t want to be physical anymore because it would make their “journey even more difficult.”

Actresses Naomi Ackie and Nafessa Williams, who play Houston and Crawford in the buzzing biopic, said they were careful about their approach to portraying the former pair’s connection onscreen.

“Someone asked me about labels, and I don’t feel comfortable answering that question for either of them because they didn’t put labels on it,” Williams told the L.A. Times. “I think they were soulmates.”

Ackie added:

“I think it’s quite interesting that we sometimes have the urge to put labels on everything, even when the people who are involved in the relationship don’t do it themselves. That has always been the energy, like there’s no words for the love that we have for each other. And that was a joy to create.”


Clive Davis said the pair was in a “one-year affair”

Houston’s long-time manager Clive Davis confirmed her romance with Crawford during an interview with Extra in late December.

“They did have a teenage, one-year affair,” the famous music executive revealed. “There have been so many articles that have…attempted to trace her addiction to being a frustrated lesbian or never dated a man before Bobby, all of which was totally inaccurate,” he continued. “I know of several men that she dated before Bobby. I mean, she did see Jermaine Jackson for two years.”


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