Nina Simone’s daughter Simone has spoken out about the unauthorized biopic being made about her mother’s life, the casting of Zoe Saldana and how the director “backdoored” her way into the Nina Simone story.
Zoe Saldana was pictured for the first time on the set of the upcoming Nina Simone biopic. And lots of people are pissy about this costume & makeup someone has decked her out in.
During a very interesting interview with EBONY, Simone, a Broadway actress and daughter of Nina Simone (shown above), gave her feelings about the casting of Zoe Saldana (shown at the top on the set as “Nina”) and explained how someone could simply write a movie about her mom without her consent or involvement. Here are the highlights:
Can you clarify your feelings about the casting of Zoe Saldana to play your mother?
Simone: I love Zoe Saldana’s work. I’ve seen some of her movies more than once and really enjoy what she brings to the screen. As an actress I respect her process, but I also know that there are many actresses out there, known or not, who would be great as my mother. 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.
This project that’s going forward, you’ve talked about having little to nothing to do with it. How does that happen?
S: I’ve been asking myself that question. How does that happen? As I said on my blog, when the announcement came out approximately six years ago that Mary J. Blige had been cast to play Nina Simone, I heard it along with everyone else and I was very concerned. 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
So you’re not a gatekeeper. So you’re not someone who’s trying to whitewash your mother’s legacy is what you’re saying?
S: No, not at all. Her life is educational, inspirational, entertaining, and downright shocking at times. My mother was good at shocking people. She enjoyed it and she did it well. So why do we need to embellish, to build a tall tale? That is what Cynthia Mort has done. She has taken my mother’s name and then bought the life rights to her male nurse turned manager, Clifton Henderson’s life. In my opinion, she came in through the back door. I was saying, come in the front door, let’s have a cup of tea, let’s talk about it. Let’s work together.
I asked her ‘How did you get in contact with Clifton?’ She said she googled him. I asked her ‘If you googled him, I was starring on Broadway at the time. I’m her only child. I’m not hard to find. Why didn’t you contact me?’ It’s interesting because it took a little while, but the truth finally came out. She told me she was told not to contact me. My mother and I had our ups and downs, like any family, but we loved each other until the end, and I wouldn’t try to edit our troubles out of any project.
When Cynthia and I ended the call, we agreed to talk again the next day. I felt like we’d broken some really good ground that we’d created a place from which we could continue to communicate. But when I called into the conference call the next day, I was the only one on the line.