comScore Zoe Saldana Stars in Nina Simone Biopic | The Mary Sue
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Zoe Saldana Stars in Controversial Nina Simone Biopic

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With the Netflix documentary, What Happened Miss Simone? having been so successful, as well as nominated for an Oscar this year, it’s no wonder that there’s been a resurgence of all things Nina Simone. Now, there’s a new biopic starring Zoe Saldana, which has just gotten a release date.

The film, titled Nina, will be released in theaters – as well as on VOD and Digital HD – on April 22nd, and stars Saldana as Simone, and David Oyelowo as Simone’s loyal manager, Clifton Henderson. Here’s the official description, according to Flavorwire:

She was one of the century’s most extraordinary talents, a 15-time Grammy nominee and Grammy Hall of Fame Recipient; her mesmerizing songs and passionate politics combined to make her the unforgettable Nina Simone (Zoe Saldana). But fame and fortune came with a price, and her later years were riddled with depression, alcohol abuse and isolation. Rediscovering the meaning of her life and work took courage, strength and one true friend: Clifton Henderson (David Oyelowo), the man who started out as her assistant and eventually became her loyal manager. With Clifton’s encouragement, the “high priestess of soul” began a courageous journey back to her music … and, eventually, herself.

The film is not without some controversy. Saldana, though black, is ethnically Dominican and Puerto Rican. Not only that, but she’s definitely the “Hollywood version” of Simone as far as appearance. These things have upset members of Simone’s family, particularly her daughter, according to NPR:

Her daughter, actress Simone Kelly, told The New York Times that the singer often said she’d like Whoopi Goldberg to portray her if a movie was ever made.

Is Saldana too light-skinned to play Nina Simone? Do you think that having a black Latina play a role like this is tricky? Will you be checking out Nina? Let’s chat in the comments!

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