Angela Bassett says she could only have signed on to direct the forthcoming Whitney Houston biopic for Lifetime if she knew it handled the pop diva's life story with extreme care.
"It had to be grateful, respectful, honest, and all those things, because we know in her lifetime there was a great deal of pressure and scrutiny," she tells Entertainment Weekly. "I didn’t want this story to add to that... I wanted to tell a story about a beautiful sista."
Bassett adds that she’s done her best to steer clear of criticism from fans, and family members, who think Houston's story deserved more than a TV movie. “I don’t read it, because I want to stay in this place where I’m working with folk who have come to the table and care about this person,” she said.
“And it’s just not by and large another job. We care about the humanity of this woman and man, telling their story. I’m not going to read those negative comments because everyone has something to say."
Bassett says she reached out to Houston family “in the early days” of the project, but they chose not to participate. “We paid our respects and let the conversation be had, just to get their okay. They certainly could have been not involved and against it,” she said.
The biopic will also address Houston and husband Bobby Brown’s drug use delicately. "We know that drugs were a part of their story and that’s certainly an element of their story. We can’t tell their story without that,” she said.
"I hope we can unpack it gently."
Whitney Houston is slated to premiere on Lifetime in 2015.