We’ve got to RESPECT National Geographic for the cast of season three of Genius: Aretha


Genius has found its Aretha for the third instalment of the National Geographic anthology series.

Most of us can’t resist belting out the empowering lyrics to Respect when we hear, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me” blasting over the airwaves, arguably one of Aretha Franklin’s most iconic songs. Now, the hugely talented singer, songwriter, civil rights activist, and pianist’s life is coming to the small screen in Genius: Aretha, the third instalment in the National Geographic anthology series and the first authorised scripted series based on the life and work of this musical powerhouse. We have the lowdown on the cast and who’ll be playing the title role.

Cynthia Erivo: Aretha Franklin

Cynthia Erivo, known for portraying the role of Celie in the Broadway revival of the The Color Purple (which earned her a Tony, Grammy and Emmy award), plays the late vocalist in the latest Genius series. While Cynthia, a talented singer in her own right, will perform Aretha’s original songs in the show, she notes that learning about what her voice could do and the power it has, was influenced by the star. “Aretha Franklin has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a little girl,” Cynthia said to TV Insider.

Malcolm Barrett: Ted White

Known as time traveller and scientist, Rufus in Timeless, Malcom Barrett is cast as Aretha’s first husband and business manager, Ted White. Although Ted was instrumental in selecting some of Aretha’s best songs, he tragically became an alcoholic just as Aretha’s fame and fortune spiked.

The rest of the cast for the eight-part series, includes: Patrice Covington (The Color Purple), Kimberly Hébert Gregory (Vice Principals), Rebecca Naomi Jones (The Big Sick) and Sanai Victoria (who will play the younger version of the late singer).

Genius is an anthology series that depicts the life’s work of some of the most decorated creatives in the world. The first season featured legendary theoretical physicist Albert Einstein and season two focused on iconic and eccentric Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso.

Genius: Aretha starts production in December and will be ready for release by mid-2020.

Watch some of the cast in some of their well-known roles:

  • Catch Cynthia in Widows on DStv Now and Catch Up.
  • Binge-watch Kimberly in Vice Principals, available on Showmax.
  • Have a girls’ night in with Kimberly with The Big Sick on Showmax.

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