BY: KIMBERLY ALSUP
Whitney: Can I Be Me premiered on Wednesday, April 26 at the Tribeca Film Festival. This new documentary details the long-rumored secret romance between Whitney Houston and her best friend and assistant Robyn Crawford. This documentary features never-before-seen footage taken throughout the legendary singer’s tumultuous life on stage and off. It features a sensitive examination of the star’s relationship with Robyn.
Robyn herself was not directly involved with the documentary, however, it does feature new and archival in-depth interviews from family members, friends and those closest to Whitney and points to signs that their relationship was more than platonic, and that her eventual exit from Whitney’s life was an apparent factor in the singer’s undoing.
The film chronicles Whitney who first met Robyn as a teen in East Orange, NJ and who later married Bobby Brown, was often in the middle of a combative relationship between her husband and Robyn. By the end of the 1999, My Love is Your Love Tour tensions between Robyn and Bobby had intensified and reached a breaking point.
“I don’t think Whitney was gay. I think she was bisexual. Robyn provided a safe place for her…in that Whitney found safety and solace.”
-Whitney’s longtime friend and stylist Ellin Lavar
“Robyn and Whitney were like twins. They were inseparable. They had a bond and Bobby Brown could never remove Robyn. He wanted to be the man in the relationship.”
-Whitney’s security, Keith Ammons
“Bobby Brown and Robyn Crawford were like fire and ice. They hated each other. They’d battle for her affections. Bobby and Robyn has some physical altercations and there were times where he wasn’t always the winner. But then, Whitney would always come and pour oil over troubled waters.”
-Whitney’s former bodyguard, David Roberts
After the My Love is Your Love tour, Robyn left and that’s when Whitney’s downfall began.
“That was the downfall of Whitney. Robyn was the person who was keeping her together.” –Ellin Lavar
Following Whitney’s death, Robyn wrote an exclusive obituary for Esquire in which she described the singer as “a loyal friend” and who “looked like an angel.”
“I loved her laughter, and that’s what I’ll miss most.”
In her 2013 memoir, Remembering Whitney, Cissy Houston talked about her daughter’s relationship with Robyn.
“I just didn’t want her with my daughter. I know nothing about a romantic relationship. That’s what everybody said, but they didn’t know either.”
The film is co-directed by Nick Broomfield and Rudi Dolezal.
During the Q&A session after the film, the directors admitted to receiving heavy legal pushback about the content included in the film but did not disclose who disapproved to the film.
Dolezal who knew Whitney and Robyn personally told the audience:
“I think that Robyn was probably the only person, at least that I met, who completely understood Whitney. Whitney trusted Robyn 100%. She was her confidante and that was the source of friction and dilemma Whitney was in with now having a husband.”
Whitney: Can I Be Me will screen three times at the Tribeca Film Festival before its premiere on Showtime in August.