Nina Simone’s Daughter Writes An Open Letter To Her Fans About Her Mother’s Biopic Movie Casting

Nina Simone’s Daughter Says Biopic Project Starring Zoe Saldana Is Unauthorized

The internet is in an uproar over the news that Zoe Saldana has signed on to play Nina Simone.

The Hollywood Reporter confirmed Shadow and Act reports that Saldana had been plucked to play the iconic piano player and vocalist and singer in an upcoming biopic going into production on October 16th.

Now Nina’s daughter is speaking up and she’s revealed that the project isn’t even authorized:

Greetings Nina Simone Lovers, Simone here.

I have read many of the comments am happy you all took the time to share your thoughts and feelings.

Here’s mine:

When the announcement initially hit the press with MJ Blige cast as Nina (about 6 yrs ago) I heard it along with everyone else. The story was written as a love story between my mother and her former nurse, Clifton Henderson and primarily takes place during the last 8 years of her life.

Please note, this project is unauthorized. The Nina Simone Estate was never asked permission nor invited to participate.

I have seen many names regarding who you think should play the role of Nina. Remember Angela Bassett as Tina Turner? SHE NAILED IT! Angela Bassett is an ACTRESS! And, we all know she lip synced along with Tina and did an amazing job. Personally, I prefer an actress to a singer. Just because a person is great at one does not mean they will be great at the other. If written, funded and CAST PROPERLY a movie about my mother will make an lasting imprint.

My vision of a movie about my mother includes SO many pivotal moments that are monumentally important towards relaying the journey of a woman whose journey began as a child prodigy born in North Carolina in the 1930′s…too many to list here but, trust when I say the tale will inspire through the sheer sharing of HOW Eunice Waymon became Nina Simone, The High Priestess Of Soul renowned worldwide. How many of you know my mother’s FIRST love was classical music? Do you know the hours she practiced preparing to audition for the Curtis Institute of Music only to be rejected because of the color of her skin? **After my mother made her transition I accepted a diploma from that very same institute with a speech she began writing but was unable to finish prior to her death.** As a child, my mother was told her nose was too big and she was too dark yet she graduated valedictorian of her high school class – The Allen School for Girls – AND, skipped two grades. Nina was one of the most outspoken, prolifically gifted artists using the stage to speak out against racism during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960′s. Her friends included Betty Shabazz, Lorraine Hansberry (my godmother), Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Miriam Makeba, Stokely Carmichael, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings and Queens worldwide. Had she become a classical pianist, which was her dream….shattered, I doubt she would have found her true destiny. Nina Simone was a voice for her people and she spoke out HONESTLY, sang to us FROM HER SOUL, shared her joy, pain, anger and intelligence poetically in a style all her own. My mother stood up for justice, by any means necessary hahahaha YES, she was a revolutionary til the day she died. From Tragedy to Transcendence – MY VISION. The whole arc of her life which is inspirational, educational, entertaining and downright shocking at times is what needs to be told THE RIGHT WAY.

By the way:

Clifton Henderson was gay. He was not attracted to women. So, the truth is…Nina Simone and Clifton Henderson NEVER had a relationship other than a business one.

Please correct me, but isn’t a biopic the story of one’s life?

I have faith things will work out the right way and my mother’s real story will be told. For all she endured while here and all of the lives she has touched, she DESERVES to be remembered for who she truly was; not some made up love story from a former nurse/manager (now deceased) who sold his life rights because of his relationship to Nina Simone.

Ciao Y’All….Simone

It sounds like Nina Simone’s estate doesn’t have a lot of faith in this project.

Which brings us with a few other issues. First of all there’s the obvious one that Zoe Saldana is a Dominican woman with light skin and very European features, while Nina Simone had the full lips, dark skin and a kinkier hair texture. We also have to ask whether Zoe can carry this kind of part. She does so many romantic comedies and action films we can’t remember the last time she did drama much justice. It sounds like Nina’s daughter would rather an actress than a singer like Mary J. Blige. Who would you want for the role? We think Jennifer Hudson might be good or Viola Davis if it’s an older Nina we’re talking about.

In the meantime, if you’re really against Zoe, there’s a petition going around at Change.org you can sign HERE.

However, Zoe Saldana is a great actress and Mary J Blige Can not act!

Please discuss!

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Comments

  1. sherry says:

    I’d like to know how they choose their actresses for these parts? Zoe? Really? Such a role requires a certain depth to bring the character to life, I cant see can’t her pulling that off. . Give me a Hudson or Bassett , some one that can make me believe it.

    • Modibo says:

      The multi-talented artist that would come to my mind would be the singer/artist/actress Ledisi. Ledisi has a vast experience with life. Her expressions in her artistry are very much “Nina Simonish.” Ledisi in fact would be even a great Bessie Smith film. With all due respect to Ms. Bassett & Ms. Hudson. Ledisi would rock the film industry with any film performance. She’s driven through pure artistic passion. Genius!

  2. youngblackandgifted says:

    I honestly feel Nina Simone would of LOVED Lauryn Hill to play her. Lauryn Hill is our Nina Simone today the industry has turned there back on her because Lauryn refused to conform to what they wanted her to be just like Nina there is no one out there to play Nina but Lauryn she would be perfect for this role there is so much similarities not only can Lauryn sing but she can act as well. They should really seek her out for this role.

    • BrenofKy says:

      Lauryn Hill Sounds great! It is hard enough for brown skinned women to get good roles. It would be Very unfortunate if we could not or don’t even try to find one to portray someone who was one.

      • BrenofKy says:

        I also agree Anika Noni Rose who sings and acts well would be awesome!

        • BrenofKy says:

          I think BRANDY would also be great! She’s a wonderful actress and singer. Also there can be a hunt for new personality to portray Nina Simone. This could be a great opportunity for a new talent to be discovered. But many projects prefer big names, proven talent and box office pull.

    • Lenny says:

      Yeah but at least Nina Simone paid her taxes. She might not have conformed, but she still had responsibilities as an American citizen.

      • DaTruth says:

        R u sure of all the details surrounding Lauryn’s predicament? B/c most of us just conveniently believe whatever white mainstream media tells us. Timothy Geithner didnt pay taxes, but that didn’t stop him fr being the US Secretary of the Treasury n the Obama Admin. Our next prez could also b someone who its speculated hasnt pd taxes, Mitt Romney. Hmmm, I guess different strokes for different white folks!

    • Madam Prezident says:

      Man-Thats a good one! I forgot all about Lauren!

    • DaTruth says:

      I totally agree! I was thinking that India Arie would b a good choice, but I’m not sure of her acting ability. Lauryn Hill would b perfect w. her great singing & acting chops. Luv Lauryn! Plus she exudes that same kind of consciousness that the great Nina Simone exuded; although India Arie does also. There r many great blk actresses that could fill this role.

  3. I had to say it says:

    this is a movie I definitely will never see. a lot about how Nina was viewed, and accepted/not accepted is based on her looks. Yeah, Zoe is Nina’s spitting image! For the past thirty years biracial actresses have played Black characters. Now a Black woman can’t even protray a real-life Black woman. Wake up people. We ae being wiped from history. Society will have you believe that Jazz and Blues were born of whites. Fifty years from now Dr. King will be white!

    • scolette says:

      You are so right “I had to say it”. Our identities are being stolen from us right before our very eyes and we haven’t the keen sightedness or loyalty to realize it. I am the same shade as Zoe, but inside I am dark and that is where I come from, Africa, the dark continent. I am not so sure of what we hope to achieve by all of this, but it seems certain to be a divide and conquer strategy, as well as accomplishing continual endoctrination in favor of lighter skin. Shade is very important in the scheme of oppression and hence we must be realistic and be sensitive to these type issues and how they will be interpreted by our children, that’s if we care.

      • Barbara says:

        @scolette…..You are so right; and we light sisters have to take a stand with our darker hued sisters. One thing I am sure of is they will NEVER divide and conquer me from my Black sisters.

  4. TruthBTold says:

    Truth!!! Keep speaking Truth! You are right!!!

  5. Chaddi K says:

    Hollywood “whitewashing” will never end until we realize that it is just another way of continuing white supremacy, also known as racism. We need to understand this well oiled machine as a whole by putting all of the pieces together so that we can truly bring about change in this world. Open your minds folks and realize who your true enemy is. Hint: Its not each other my fellow brown, black, red or yellow brothers and sisters.

  6. Joia says:

    Your Mother, Ms. Nina Simone, was a Royal Queen of epic proportion as were and are the friends she had as you mentioned, and among them such very special royalty as Miriam Makeba and James Baldwin and Stokely Carmichael and Lorraine Hansbury and Langston Hughes, et. al. My God, how rich was your childhood. It would take a very, very special person, with genuine acting skills, as you said, to capture the complexity, genius, beauty [both inner and outter] to portray this amazing woman, your Mom. Simone, you must be one amazing woman as well to have travelled that marvelous road with yout amazingly phenomenal Mother, may she rest in peace. Thank God for Nina Simone.

  7. Paco says:

    LAURYN HILL

  8. Gene says:

    Agree, guys, I feel that Viola Davis and lauryn Hill would make the role justice and make Nina proud, but Zoe, not hating, but she is not right for the role and this is Hollywood once again dividing dark skin vs light skin, smdh.

  9. Princess P. says:

    ZOE SALDANA IS A GREAT CHOICE FOR NINA SIMONE. Zoe Saldana is a great actress with depth. She is more than capable of embracing the intricacies of Nina Simone’s diverse life. Angela Bassett, Viola Davis are good choices but they are older actresses. To span Nina’s life the actress has to be a little younger to convincingly play the changes in age. Kerry Washington would be a great choice also. I love Zoe Saldana and don’t understand why some are against. Zoe Saldana is beautiful and a great actress with depth. I would love to see Zoe play the role.

    • DaTruth says:

      @Princess P.:
      No one is against Zoe per se or discounting that she’s a talented actress, but its just that she doesn’t resemble Ms. Simone n any way shape form or fashion! There r many other talented blk actresses who have a similar look to Ms. Simone & that could do justice to this role.

  10. Brenda Verner says:

    I don’t have the words that can accurately convey just how much I loved Nina Simone. She was so many aspects of black womanhood invested in one person. First she was regal, which gave legitimacy to dark skinned women’s dignity. She was royalty, and she didn’t mind letting the world know it. Her contralto voice was deep velvet, arresting, and demanded awe and wond
    Her esthetics were exquisite. She was the embodiment of black women’s love for sharp clothes.
    That dress she wore on the “Townhall” cover is still breath-taking!

    She was the all encompassing voice of the Civil Rights movement – Young, Gifted and Black!
    She spoke in such liberating terms that all of us, particularly for dark-skinned black women, took on her pride, elegance, and even a little of her swagger.

    Actually, there is no contemporary actress or singer on the American scene now that can do justice to Nina Simone. The casting of a foreigner to attempt to deliver the essence of Nina Simone, is obscenely offensive, insulting, and a clear sign of contempt for Nina’s talent and personage.

  11. Moses M. Ballon Jr. says:

    Good Life World,
    When my wife first told me about Ms. Zoe playing the role of Ms. Nina Simone. I became very concern for obvious reasons, not black enough! Ms. Simone went through too much as a beautiful woman, who help make it alright ‘To Be Young Gifted and Black”, with hair like Ms. Gabby.

    Now she has to be all most white to have her story told. With that being said, I leave you with this “MISSISSIPPI DAMN”.
    Be Well,

  12. Jc says:

    I agree with you Princess P. Really, the only “European Features” Zoe has is her hair. People are upset cause she’s Afro-Latina and therefore not African American. Denzel washing looked nothing like Malcom X but did a wonderful portrayal of him. When black people discriminate against themselves it’s the worst form of self hate. Guess what if Zoe is replaced I guarantee you the replacement will be a terrible pick. Madam Prezident stop defining what black is and isn’t as a person of color in tired of people defining my blackness and trust me you yourself have elements of ” European Features”. If your skin ain’t blue black guess what you’ve got white blood in you too so fall back on the race baiting.

    • DaTruth says:

      First of all, imo Denzel did resemble the great Malcolm X! Also, when they start recruiting actresses like Kerry Washington or Gabrielle Union to play Elizabeth Taylor, etc., only then will I b n agreement w. ur assessment on this issue. There r sooooo many talented blk actresses who never get ample opportunities to work n films, except when Hollywood needs a maid’s role to fill. Its an abomination to choose someone who doesn’t even look blk for one of the few roles about an actual blk woman that comes along.

  13. Lenny says:

    I feel that the actress should at least,in some way, resemble the person who they’re playing. They don’t have to be identical, but not too far off from each other. Jennifer Lopez resembled Selena, Halle Berry resembled Dorothy Dandridge, the dude who played Biggie resembled him, Denzel Washington resembled Malcom X. Zoe Saldana in no way,shape or form resembles Nina Simone. Not even faintly. Mary J. Blige would be the better candidate, but she can’t act. She claims she has other engagements, but please…MJB needs to have a seat and go make a quality album since she’s so fixed on “staying in the game”.

  14. rzar says:

    Thanks Ms Simone for sharing a beautiful story about your Mother with us! How Great she is!! Zoe is a beautiful talented actress- but the physical differences are apparent It’s a shame many black actresses don’t get to far..Tichina Arnold could go farther than t.v., but who are they (Hollywood) hiring? Halle Berry ‘s! So many black female actresses, and so yet so few. I thought the actresses of Living Single with Queen Latifah would go further but… didn’t happen! Tyler Perry has his own studio and he has introduced many, has kept many in jobs, but on that Hollywood scale can they transition-? That needs to Happen. ! I mean I love Angela Bassett and she is honorable, but I’d like to see another famous actress Cicely Tyson in it too.

  15. Smith says:

    Madam Prezident is not an objective or smart writer and should leave this business or get a lot more education and experience before venturing into it at this level. She stinks.

  16. Let'sDoThisRight says:

    I like Zoe and have nothing against her, however, I must admit that my first thought was “Couldn’t they find someone with more of her features… I mean a fuller mouth, wider nose and browner skin?”

    I agree that Lauryn Hill would probably be a great choice. However, when all is said and done, I hope whoever decides to make this movie decides to do this the correct way, by involving The Nina Simone Estate.

  17. it’s all about who’s gonna make the highest box office sales …I think zoe is a poor choice..even though she is a great actress..i would like to see Jennifer Hudson in that role

  18. KingKaio says:

    I find it odd that a woman who doesn’t even consider herself to be black always takes on black roles. To me Zoe Saldana is the emboiment of self hate. She’s not the right person to portray Nina.

  19. Oh Snap! says:

    LEDISI AND ANINKA NONI ROSE AND BRANDY = YES

    LAURYN = FAIL

    LAURYN TOO CRAZY. THAT’S WHY SHE LOST HER MARLEY AND IS RAISING ALL THEM KIDS BY HERSELF.

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  3. [...] 6. Nina Simone’s Daughter says the biopic set to start shooting October 16 about her mother featuring Zoe Saldana is unauthorized. Read her letter here … nina-simones-daughter-writes-an-open-letter-to-her-fans-about-her-mothers-biopic-movie-casting [...]

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