Content Warning: This post discusses child sex abuse and will be triggering for some readers.
In the last few weeks of filming, Macdonald conducted two final interviews with people who were close to Houston. One of those interviews was with Gary Garland-Houston, Whitney Houston’s half-brother, who said he knew details of his sister’s abuse because he was sexually abused by the same person – their cousin, Dee Dee Warwick. Dee Dee, who died in 2008, was the sister of Dionne Warwick, and a soul singer in her own right.
Macdonald told The Sydney Morning Herald that while nobody initially spoke about this traumatic aspect of Houston’s childhood, he had suspected she was a victim of sexual abuse.
“Just looking at the footage of her over her life, I realised that there was something strange about the way she wasn’t comfortable in her own skin,” he said. “She was a beautiful, beautiful woman but there was something about her that was almost asexual. I thought she felt like somebody who has had a trauma in childhood, so I started to ask about it.”
When the film premiered in Cannes, the Warwick family were stunned. Cissie Watwick (Whitney’s mother) and her sister Dionne said they had only learned of the accusations two days before the screening, and released a statement saying the claims were “overwhelming and, for us, unfathomable”.
Macdonald’s documentary about the life of Whitney Houston comes only a year after Nick Broomfield’s documentary, Whitney: Can I Be Me? Macdonald’s film, however, appears to have had the support of many of those who were close to Houston, including the singer’s sister-in-law Pat Houston, who helped set up a number of interviews.
One suggestion that came out of Whitney: Can I Be Me? was that Houston had a secret romantic relationship with her female best friend Robyn Crawford.
“Robyn and Whitney were like twins,” security personnel Kevin Ammons says in the film.
“They were inseparable. They had a bond and Bobby Brown could never remove Robyn. He wanted to be the man in the relationship.”
The couple had met when the pair were both sixteen, and living in New Jersey. By all reports, they were inseparable from that moment.
Whitney will be in Australian cinemas from the 26th of July.
If you or someone you know requires information or support regarding child sexual abuse, you can call the following numbers or visit the following websites.
Bravehearts – 1800 272 831.
Kids Help Line – 1800 55 1800
Lifeline – 13 11 14