British actress Naomi Ackie embodied Whitney Houston in the biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody, but how was she able to imitate the late singer’s voice and movements?

Speaking with People, Ackie explained the lengths she went through in order to become Whitney. “There was many different elements: How do I prepare myself vocally, singing-wise? The accent work took about six months to get really comfortable with it,” she recalled.

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She continued, “And how do I prepare myself physically? In terms of movement, I worked with my amazing friend and my movement coach, Polly Bennett, and we kind of split it all up.”

Bennett previously worked with Austin Butler on Elvis, as well as Rami Malek on Bohemian Rhapsody, the biopic about late Queen singer Freddie Mercury.

“Everyone has certain cadences. Everyone has a sort of inner rhythm. And if you study it and practice it enough, the hope is that it comes out really naturally,” she said.

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In all, the actress hopes her performance would earn Whitney’s seal of approval — and bring empathy to those struggling with addiction.

“The thing about Whitney and people who are suffering from addiction is it’s a reminder that it’s an illness, that the person who is going through this is the victim of it … Her life was extraordinary, but the things she was going through were things we all go through,” she said.

I Wanna Dance with Somebody is on digital now. It’ll be released on Blu-ray on February 28.

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