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Courteney B. Vance Joins Nat Geo’s ‘Genius: Aretha’ Cast

Emmy and Tony-winning actor Courtney B. Vance will join the cast of National Geographic’s Genius: Aretha series based on the life of Aretha Franklin, the network said Thursday.

Vance (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) will play Aretha’s father, civil rights activist C.L. Franklin, according to Nat Geo officials. In addition, Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog) will serve as showrunner and executive producer, while Anthony Hemingway (Power, The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story) will executive produce and serve as the producing director for the upcoming season, said network officials.

“Courtney B. Vance is an actor whose work I’ve admired for so long,” said Parks in a statement. “To have him bring his award-winning talents to the role of C.L. Franklin, a man of great conviction who also had many flaws, is a beautiful dream come true.”

Genius: Aretha, the third installment of the Genius series that previously featured Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso, will debut in Spring 2020.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.