Almost every curriculum has a grade level objective of writing a biography. Writing about a famous person is a great objective, as long as the student is really interested in, and has a connection to, the person they are researching. If this isn’t present, it is just another exercise where little to no learning will be internalized.
Writing biographies can easily be incorporated into an authentic project. For the group of students I worked with who did the year long State Fair Project, we had them write a biography about someone famous from their state. (Definition of “from” included – born there, lived there, worked there, retired there…) Not only did this tap into their interest about the state they “owned” for the year, it also allowed them a great deal of latitude in picking a person who really interested them. We even managed to find a subject for a young lady who was determined to research and write about a figure skater – and her state was Florida! (This was a bit of a stretch, but an Olympic Gold Medalist in figure skating from Canada had spent her later years retired in Florida – worked for us!)