In the eyes of some ,Nina Simone was nothing less than a musical heroine. In her hay day, she bridged genres in the music industry and inspired tons of music lovers with her classic vocal renditions of Feelin Good, Lilac Wine, and Wild is the Wind, just to mention a few.
When it was announced that a biopic would be made starring exotic beauty Zoe Saldana, people were understandably outraged. One of those people who were outraged, and maybe even a little confused, was Nina Simone’s daughter, who simply goes by Simone.
Simone, an accomplished Broadway singer in her own right, is the sole gatekeeper to her mother’s legacy. Simone sat down with Ebony magazine to talk about the biopic, which in the past has had names like Mary J. Blige attached to it. Of Saldana’s casting Simone says:
“The one actress that I’ve had in my heart for a very long time, whose work I’m familiar with already, is Kimberly Elise. Many people have spoken to me about Viola. I love her look. I love her energy. Both of the actresses that I’ve mentioned are women of color, are women with beautiful, luscious lips and wide noses, and who know their craft. I also have no problem introducing someone we’ve never heard of before who can play my mother.”
Although she’s the sole gatekeeper of her mother’s legacy, the biopic about her mother’s life isn’t backed by Simone, as she’s not involved in anything having to do with the process and that includes the story, which according to The Advocate is to be focused on a love affair Nina had with a gay man. Of the leaps and bounds the script may take, Simone says:
“How does someone just decide to do a story about someone and completely bypass family? Completely bypass her representatives? We offered to get involved with all the stuff that we have, from the music, to the pictures, to her writings, to connecting them with the stories of many people who were close to my mother, and we were ignored.”
For those who are wondering how a biopic can go on without the permission of Nina Simone’s sole holder of her legacy, it’s because according to Simone, she doesn’t own all of the rights to her mother’s work. After speaking with director Cynthia Mort, it was clear that the clout that Simone holds over her mother’s legacy wasn’t enough:
“My mother’s life was tragic enough. My mother suffered enough. Her life is full of enough wonderful and tragic true things to make a hit movie. You don’t have to embellish her story. I really tried to impress on her how vital it was do a project from a place of truth.”
Do you think Zoe Saldana was a good choice to play Nina Simone?