Nina Simone biopic: Zoe Saldana is just the wrong choice

And yes it’s because she’s just too light-skinned for the role, I won’t lie. As far back as 2010 The Hollywood Reporter and other Hollywood trade publications were reporting on Mary J Blige starring in the role of the late great Jazz Chanteuse,  pianist  and civil rights activist  Nina Simone. Since then, Blige has pulled out and it seems that Zoe Saldana has just signed on to play Simone, in a film scheduled to be shot at Ealing Studios here in London.

Zoe Saldana just won’t do

Saldana is a beautiful and talented Afro-Latina actress, she’s just the wrong shade of brown, besides she looks nothing like Ms Simone. I’m also concerned this is another case of Hollywood attempting to ‘lighten’ black history and specifically black women. Maybe I’m wrong and it’s not a case of casting her for her skin colour, either way, it should not be her.

Unlike so many black female entertainers during those years, she strongly identified with her African roots and didn’t subscribe to making her look more “European friendly”. She embraced her dark skin, stuck to wearing her hair natural in an afro or in elaborate corn-rows. Her attire is what I call “Afro Bohemian”.

Who then? First person that came to mind was Lauryn Hill. She would be perfect! They pout alike, Hill has the voice, so I guess a similar vocal range, she also has a certain attitude, and I feel could portray Nina Simone who was not always an easy woman to deal with. Unfortunately she’s just plead guilty to not paying federal taxes on $1.8 million and has another court date in November.The makers of the movie and their backers might have a hard time working this one out, but if only…..

It would be an awesome come back for Hill who has not released anything since her MTV unplugged album in 2002 and still has a massive fan base captivated since the 1998 release of her debut solo and much acclaimed album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

My other choices would be Viola Davis (The Maid) , India Arie and Jennifer Hudson. Hill, Davis and Arie I feel all channel the spirit of Nina Simone. I would suggest Jill Scott, but her voluptuousness might exclude her, unless she brought her weight down to something similar to Nina Simone. I would also include my cousin in Los Angeles who could probably play the s**t outta the movie and could probably produce or direct it….she has the cred… I won’t name her here. Native New Yorker, Adepero Oduye is a name that I have seen thrown around internet forums as a contender.

Channeling the spirit of Nina Simon.  I’m on Team Lauryn Hill

In any case I am thrilled to hear that production of a movie on the great Ms Simone’s life is coming to fruition, and I hope unlike so many other biop-pics such as Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, which ultimately Halle Berry landed the lead role, but took decades to be made. This production is rumored to focus on Simone’s relationship (later in her life) with her assistant Clifton Henderson played by British born David Oyelowo (Red Tails). Geez I hope not, it would be an atrocity if Nina Simone was defined by a relationship she once had.

What say you?


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