Whitney Houston‘s sister-in-law and former manager is defending a new documentary that intimately explores the singer’s life.
Pat Houston — who served as executive producer of Whitney, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last month — appeared on Good Morning America Wednesday. She said the movie was made by “people that have dealt with her emotions from the day she was born until the day she died, people that were around her. People that really knew her and had to deal with everything — really lived what she lived.”
She added, “Everyone that has a life has a story. It’s her story and it’s played out in the documentary. She narrated a lot of it herself. It’s just her life and her story as the family would see it, and the friends, who dealt with it every single day.”
Whitney died in 2012 at age 48 following a years-long struggle with addiction, which her sister-in-law admitted that the family partially enabled.
“When Whitney became who she became, a superstar and an icon, Whitney wanted her family there,” Houston said. “Everybody else to her was a stranger, everybody else had to be hired. Her family didn’t. They are going to be there regardless so I can honestly say yeah, we kind of enabled sometimes in certain things. She was a brat sometimes. For me, I called her my bratty little sister.”
She continued, “Family is going to always be around, and it’s good. And family is there for a different type of support than people who work around you.”
Whitney’s brother Michael also speaks out in the documentary about introducing her to drugs at an early age.
“For him, I guess it was therapeutic to really talk about it. It was like a pressure cooker opening up,” Houston said of her brother-in-law. “He was speaking about himself and talking about his sister. He just needed to talk and after sharing his sister with the world for over 30 years — and just having to protect an image — that moment was his. It was kind of a healing process for him as well.”
The new film also makes stunning allegations about the music icon’s early childhood, saying she was sexually abused by Dee Dee Warwick, Whitney’s cousin and the sister of singer Dionne Warwick.
Houston denied that Whitney’s family let her down, saying the singer was close to her mother, Cissy.
“There were lots of struggles, but when you have strength like that coming from Cissy … A lot of things go on in your life, but she has such a strong foundation in God and she taught that to her kids.”
While Whitney is hardly the first feature inspired by the life of the singer, it was crafted with official participation from the Houston estate.
“I approached Whitney’s life like a mystery story; why did someone with so much raw talent and beauty self-destruct so publicly and painfully? I was lucky enough to have the support of Pat Houston and the Whitney Houston estate in this quest,” director Kevin Macdonald (One Day in September) previously said of the project in a statement. “They entrusted me with the ‘keys to the vault’ while giving me complete freedom to follow the story wherever it went. At heart, Whitney is an intimate family story that reveals a new side to a woman that even her most die-hard fans never knew.”