Cynthia Erivo Cast as Aretha Franklin in ”Genius: Aretha”. The “Queen of Soul” will be the focus of the National Geographic’s anthology program’s third season. Franklin, one of music’s most influential artists of all time, died last year at the age of 76. Previous historical figures portrayed in ‘Genius’ include Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso. Aretha Franklin has been a source of inspiration for me since I was a little girl. Her strength, passion and soul are evident in her everlasting legacy, not only as a transcendent artist, but as a humanitarian and civil rights icon. To have the opportunity to bring her legacy to life and show the fullness of her being, her humanity and brilliance, is an honor. Erivo is best known for her leading role in the Broadway play, ‘The Color Purple.’. In 2016, she won the Tony award for best actress in a musical. Erivo also took home a Grammy award in 2017 for best musical theater album. On the big screen, she appeared in the 2018 films ‘Widows’ and ‘Bad Times at the El Royale.’. She also portrays another historical figure, Harriet Tubman, in the upcoming movie ‘Harriet.’. The third season of National Geographic’s anthology series is scheduled to debut sometime next spring