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Baltimore actress appears in ‘Whitney’ biopic

Stacy M. Brown | 1/26/2015, 6:48 a.m.
Noree Victoria grew up on the hardscrabble streets of Baltimore, but to say she has never looked back is completely ...
Noree Victoria (Courtesy Photo)

Noree Victoria grew up on the hardscrabble streets of Baltimore, but to say she has never looked back is completely wrong. Not just because she comes home several times a year, but because the Milford Mill High School graduate is always thinking about her Charm City roots.

“I’m from Baltimore. It’s special because we have a different culture and everyone has challenges. But, you can’t help but come from Baltimore and maintain a certain humility about yourself,” Victoria said.

She also grew up as a big fan of the late pop superstar Whitney Houston and when casting calls went out for the Lifetime biopic of the famed singer, Victoria tried out for the lead role.

“But, I have two left feet, so I didn’t get that part,” she said.

Producers did, however, cast her in the film as “Sheryl,” an associate of Houston’s longtime love and former husband Bobby Brown. Victoria says she had the time of her life making the movie, which first aired on Saturday, January 17, 2015.

“It was electric, Yaya DaCosta [who portrays Houston] was great and, between (director) Angela Bassett and her energy and the music and the chemistry, it was amazing,” said Victoria, who also has a feature role on TV One’s “The Rickey Smiley Show.”

Victoria also will appear as Liz in the upcoming film, “The Choice,” based on author Nicholas Sparks’ novel of the same name.

“Whitney” details the life of the pop star and focuses on her sensational marriage to Brown, who is portrayed by Arlen Escarpeta, the former lead singer of the pop group, New Edition.

While former “America’s Top Model” runner-up DaCosta has earned critical acclaim for her portrayal of Houston, singer Deborah Cox was called on to deliver Houston’s legendary vocals which included such smash hit songs as “I Will Always Love You,” “The Greatest Love of All,” and “Saving All My Love.”

While many of Houston’s family members and critics objected to the making of the film, the singer’s cousin, superstar Dionne Warwick, praised the movie and Bassett, who starred alongside Houston in the 1995 hit movie, “Waiting to Exhale.”

The movie chronicles the career successes of Houston and the tumultuous marriage to Bobby Brown. It also includes the couples’ drinking and substance abuse habits, ultimately leading to Houston’s death in 2012 at the age of 48.

Ironically, Victoria says that on the night Houston died she was at a pre-Grammy party with a lot of Hollywood types and many of Houston’s friends.

“I just remember having a nice time, everybody smiling and then all of a sudden everyone was on their cell phones and then the mood turned somber and everyone started heading for the doors,” Victoria said. “She was one of the greatest artists of our time. Her story is definitely one that begs to be told and music history is incomplete without it.

The film does the singer’s legacy well, according to Victoria.

“With the direction and vision of Angela Bassett, I believe that [the film’s] audiences won’t be disappointed,” she said. “Angela is so very passionate and patient, and visual and hands-on. She has a sensual style of directing that’s both fierce and compassionate. I watched her on set and saw that she let every character live within her. That’s not easy to do. I’m proud of her and honored to have had my craft in her care.”