A Nina Simone biopic, titled Nina, is set to hit theaters next month. Ever since accepting the lead role in the film, Zoe Saldana has come under fire, with many–some of them the late Simone’s relatives–saying her light skin and Latina features aren’t right for the role.
Now another of Nina Simone’s relatives is speaking out–this time supporting Zoe Saldana. Lisa Simone Kelly feels terrible that Zoe Saldana is getting bashed for playing the role of her late mother.
Nina Simone's daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, thinks people should lay off Zoe Saldana about starring in the new biopic https://t.co/lGescRz1id
— Jezebel (@Jezebel) March 5, 2016
“It’s unfortunate that Zoe Saldana is being attacked so viciously when she is someone who is part of a larger picture,” Lisa Simone Kelly says in an interview with Time magazine.
“It’s clear she brought her best to this project, but unfortunately she’s being attacked when she’s not responsible for any of the writing or the lies,” she adds.
— TheWrap (@TheWrap) March 7, 2016
Zoe Saldana’s skin was darkened and she wears a prosthetic nose for her role as Nina Simone. Many have compared these alterations to the “blackface” that mimicked African-Americans. Lisa Simone Kelly maintains there are significant discrepancies in the script as well.
Zoe Saldana has hit back at some of her naysayers. In one Twitter post she quotes Nina Simone herself.
"I'll tell you what freedom is to me- No Fear… I mean really, no fear." #NinaSimone
— Zoe Saldana (@zoesaldana) March 2, 2016
Just because Lisa Simone Kelly is standing up for Zoe Saldana, that doesn’t mean she is in favor of the way the movie was made. She blames director Cynthia Mort, however, instead.
Nina Simone's daughter said "it's unfortunate Zoe Saldana is being attacked so viciously" https://t.co/J0h6Soz2i3
— billboard (@billboard) March 7, 2016
“The project has been tainted from the very beginning,” she tells Time. “Clearly, it is not the truth about my mother’s life, and everyone now knows that. This is not how you want your loved ones remembered.”
Nina Simone’s family was never consulted for any aspect of the film.
Nina opens in theaters nationwide on April 22.