Lifetime’s Whitney Houston Biopic Will Include a Storyline Based on Her Rumored Affair With Robyn Crawford.

Robyn Crawford Whitney Houston

Rumors have swirled about for years that Whitney Houston had an ongoing affair in the 80’s and 90’s with her assistant and close friend, Robyn Crawford. Houston herself never confirmed or denied the rumors, simply stating in a 1987 interview with Time,

People see Robyn with me, and they draw their own conclusions. Anyway, whose business is it if you’re gay or like dogs? What others do shouldn’t matter. Let people talk. It doesn’t bother me because I know I’m not gay. I don’t care.

Crawford, on the other hand, avoided the media. The only public statement she has ever made on their relationship comes in the form of a touching obituary for the fallen star, published in Esquire.

I have never spoken about her until now. And she knew I wouldn’t. She was a loyal friend, and she knew I was never going to be disloyal to her. I was never going to betray her. Now I can’t believe that I’m never going to hug her or hear her laughter again. I loved her laughter, and that’s what I miss most, that’s what I miss already.

Yolanda Ross, who will playing Robyn Crawford in the upcoming Whitney Houston biopic Whitney, recently spoke with The Daily Beast, about portraying Crawford respectfully and realistically, but in a way that acknowledges their close relationship and the ambiguity around it.

It’s interesting that you said “whether they were together or not,” because while Whitney certainly leads you to believe there was a romantic relationship between Robyn and Whitney, it doesn’t say for certain whether there was.

I think it’s always a fine line to walk when you’re playing someone who’s a real character. It’s the same thing I did when I was in Antwone Fisher. That was a real person I was playing in that movie, too, and I wanted to know some things about that person, but not everything about that person so that you’re not mimicking in that way. But in this case, there wasn’t a lot out there about Robyn for me to even get into. It was, more or less, taking what’s on the page and making that real—making what I feel this relationship is or would be real. I personally knew of fights that went on between Bobby and Robyn during that time. You would hear about them. And you also knew that Cissy didn’t like him. That kind of stuff was out there, so it’s keeping all that in mind but still playing what’s in front of you in the script. You can’t add to something that is not documented, not written in.

But because this movie doesn’t actually go out and say “they were lovers!”, how do you portray their relationship? Were you playing up or, on the flip side, shying away from portraying a romantic attraction?

No, I wasn’t shying away from it. She’s a beautiful woman. And from what I knew of Robyn then, I don’t think she was in the closet. It’s a love and it’s an admiration. So that was played there. How much of it is a love that’s between two lovers is a different story, because that, then, would have called for there to be different kinds of scenes in the movie. I played it as love and longing. Ultimately, what’s happening with them is that the person who Robyn loves is leaving. No matter if you’re lovers or a best friend, when someone you love leaves to get married, your relationship is going to change. That’s what I played. And that’s what it was.

Lifetime doesn’t have the best track record with delicate relationships, as evidenced by the abysmal handling of R. Kelly in The Aaliyah Movie. But I have a better feeling about this one. I guess we’ll see when the biopic airs on June 17th, 2015.