The stories rumbling around the internet about the upcoming Nina Simone biopic have been intriguing, confusing, and contradictory. Let me bring you up to speed, if you’re not yet caught up.

The biopic was apparently supposed to feature Mary J. Blige as the star but now they’re saying Zoe Saldana is to play Nina Simone. But now folks are wondering if she’s the right choice for the role. And Nina Simone’s own daughter is speaking out about her concerns regarding this apparently unauthorized project. Oh, and the script is supposed to be a love story but reportedly the man being depicted as Nina’s lovers, was actually gay. And the film will only focus on the last few years of Nina’s life.

Keeping up with this makes me tired and concerned for the future of the film. Because if there’s one woman that deserves a full celebration of her life on the big screen, it’s Nina Simone.

A new list of potential actresses is being bandied around – Viola Davis and Angela Bassett have been mentioned, and Adepero Oduye is at the top of this wish list. I think she’s an amazing choice. Adepero Oduye is a brilliant actress who has depth and range and bears more than a passing resemblance to Nina.

However with a life as full and significant and mercurial as Nina Simone’s, I wonder if it’d be a better choice to make this a truly high caliber documentary, like Marley, which I LOVED. There’s a whole lot of amazing footage of Nina Simone’s live performances to be found, and her whole life story is compelling. Not just a short segment of it.

There have been documentaries made in the past,, but I think a new documentary by a truly committed, big name director would attract attention, win critical praise and likely awards, and it’d allow Nina Simone to tell her own story in her own voice and give the scope of her life the attention it deserves.

But that’s just my opinion. What do you think? Who would you like to see play Nina Simone, if a biopic is ever made?

** Photo source


Alicia says:
August 21, 2012, 12:40 pm
VIOLA DAVIS. Please and thank you.
Calandra Branch says:
August 21, 2012, 12:43 pm
I think Ms. Simone deserves a film worthy of her that her family would support (after all, who knew her BEST?!), as opposed to what Hollywood or the critics would want to see.
politicallyincorrect says:
August 21, 2012, 12:43 pm
Afrobella solved the problem, make it a Documentary.
Milaxx says:
August 21, 2012, 12:44 pm
I have to admit that first thing that came to mind for me was that Whoopie Goldberg 15/20 years ago would have been perfect for this role. I just read about Adepero and I agree, she would be a good fit as well or if they want a "name" attached to it, Viola Davis. She's fairly well known and recently was nominated for an Oscar for The Help. As much as I like Zoe, she would be horribly miscast in this role.
politicallyincorrect says:
August 21, 2012, 1:02 pm
I know people disagree with Zoey, but this supposed lover storyline is really why this project should be canned
Lianne says:
August 21, 2012, 1:05 pm
Sigh. As soon as I heard that Zoe Saldana was cast in this role I KNEW it was a mistake. She is a fine actress, but she is NOT Nina Simone. She doesn't even LOOK like her (plus isn't she dominican/puerto rican??). I didn't really agree with Mary J. in the role either (She has very little acting experience to play the range of emotions of a woman as complex as Simone.) Viola Davis and Adepero Oduye are both excellent choices, too bad they aren't paying attention to them. Great idea about the documentary though Bella that would solve everything.....
Mia says:
August 21, 2012, 1:19 pm
I think it's a multilevel problem. Let me explain. When I think of a movie for someone on Nina Simone's level there needs to be an actor to play her which can portray her with the same understanding and complexity. Take for instance the movie Ray. That movie was a hit because Jamie Foxx is a GREAT actor and singer who understands the entertainment industry as a singer but is also a underestimated, great actor. There are a lack of actresses on that level for us to choose from. Then, if they aren't going to tell the "story" of her life I don't think I want to see it. There is so much about her life and struggle to just glance over. For them not to discuss the human struggle she live through would be a huge chagrin.
Nikia says:
August 21, 2012, 1:41 pm
Nina Simone is near and dear to my heart. And I have to agree with Mia, the actress chosen to play her in a film absolutely must be able to embody all that is Nina. Out of all the names being thrown around, I think Adepero Oduye is the top contender. I agree that a documentary would be good. However, a movie that spans her life and fills all of those gaps that a documentary simply won't capture would be ideal. Hopefully, Hollywood will get it right.
laughing808 says:
August 21, 2012, 2:49 pm
Aunjanue Ellis Joy Bryant Sydney Poitier
nichole says:
August 21, 2012, 10:44 pm
When I first heard this, my first thought is Adepero Oduye. She was fantastic in Pariah and I could see Nina Simone in her. Trying to go mainstream to reach larger audiences is not the way to go casting this role. Other options include Keke Palmer (she can sing) and Naturi Naughton (another singer).
Maria Z. says:
August 22, 2012, 12:37 am
First time tah I enter in this blog and I like so much, is veri ineteresting.Maria Z.
Julie says:
August 22, 2012, 12:05 pm
I agree with Patrice: make a documentary. There's a lot of footage. Check out this video, I Wish I Knew How It Feels To Be Free (Live), I believe that it was a segment from The Great American Machine, a series that aired on PBS 1971-1972.
warrior11209 says:
August 22, 2012, 1:07 pm
A documentary which is authorized by the family starring either Viola Davis or Adepero Oduye AND covering the great life of Nina Simone (not just concentrating on a fictionalized love story ) would be a vehicle that I could support. I have been a fan of Nina Simone since I was a little girl - my mother played her music all the time and she was one of the first singers that when I looked at her face I saw myself. @Julie -thanks for the link!
pets says:
August 22, 2012, 6:43 pm
Make a documentary.
Julie says:
August 22, 2012, 7:19 pm
Whoops ... I meant The Great American Dream Machine.
MsXpat says:
August 23, 2012, 3:38 am
I've been hearing about this for what seems like ages. Whether is a documentary for film, I can hardly wait to see it! I like Zoe as an actress but NOT for this film I like the idea of Viola. I don't know Adepero but as you said she looks a bit like Nina. I assume from you like of her she must be a good actress in which case that's certainly a good choice as well. I jus wish the would stop teasing and get on with it, lol.
Stacy Morrison (@bklynstacy) says:
August 23, 2012, 8:21 pm
I. Love. Nina. Simone. And oh my lord, if they turn her into some Lifetime Movie/Hollywood Trash, I will be so pissed. She needs to be a deep and serious movie. "Ray" was a rare one: a very popular film that was meant to be popular that also managed to have real heart and soul in it. (Yes, to Jamie Foxx, but also to the writers.) I'd rather see Nina be a little-seen-indie done right, than some flash-in-the-pan-Friday-night-come-and-go from the big studios. Oy, the state of "American cinema" such as it is gives me heartburn....
Chloe says:
August 23, 2012, 9:00 pm
Viola Davis or someone of that caliber would be my choice also. Saldana, uh... NO. First the lady, unless she gets plastic surgery and some lessons in African American culture is the furthest representation of Nina Simone someone could,find outside of Angelina Jolie. Really now?
Chloe says:
August 23, 2012, 9:12 pm
Honestly, before Saldana I'd pick actresses with no resemblance but a shared cultural background like Halle Berry or Rashida Jones. Though first choices would be Viola Davis, Woodard, Angela Bassett atleast the other two identify and understand the African American experience in a deeper way than Saldana will ever. Zoe has always proclaimed herself to be Latina or Afrolatina (Domincan, etc), and though she's a great actress I wholeheartedly believe she would be miscast also.
Stephanie Graham says:
August 27, 2012, 10:29 am
Nina Simone was such an amazing, complex and talented woman, this role should not be taken lightly. I am a huge fan of Mary J. Blige but I don't think she would have been a great fit for this either. Right off the bat Viola Davis and Anika Noni Rose, I thought would be a great fit but this is a time to really dig deep and this could be a an awesome opportunity for a new actress that might not be known or maybe a theater actress to play this role. They should hit the audition room with this one instead of just picking out people and assigning roles. Im excited about this film though!!!
Terry says:
August 28, 2012, 9:58 pm
petition to change actress ...
nichole says:
August 28, 2012, 11:00 pm
OMG, how could I forget? India.Arie would be perfect especially if she can act.
PCG says:
September 8, 2012, 2:19 pm
I think Viola Davis is a great idea, but Anika Noni Rose has the vocal talent that would really nail it.
Eric says:
September 19, 2012, 11:06 am
Lauren Hill
Aisha says:
September 25, 2012, 1:36 pm
Adepero would smoke this role.
nikki says:
October 22, 2012, 11:41 am
HANDS Down, and I co-sign with Nichole on India Arie
Ms.Mary says:
May 8, 2013, 9:38 pm
Jennifer Hudson