Nina Simone's daughter criticises 'tainted' biopic, defends Zoe Saldana

'It is not the truth about my mother’s life'

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The Independent Culture

The first trailer of the long-delayed Nina Simone biopic has caused controversy for featuring Zoe Saldana as the titular singer.

Simone’s family were some of the first to criticise the clip, calling it “nauseating” and “soul crushing” via the official Nina Simone Twitter account, run by her estate.

Her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, has now weighed in on things, defending Saldana’s casting but criticising the film for being both ‘”tainted” and “full of lies”.

"It's unfortunate that Zoe Saldana is being attacked so viciously when she is someone who is part of a larger picture,” she told Time.

"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.

"There are many superb actresses of colour who could more adequately represent my mother and could bring her to the screen with the proper script, the proper team and a sense of wanting to bring the truth of my mother’s journey to the masses. And Nina, in my opinion, doesn't do any of that."

One of her biggest issues with the production is the fictionalised relationship between her mother and her manager at the time, Clifton Henderson, who she says is actually gay.

 "The movie is about a relationship between my mother and Clifton which never took place. They never had an amorous relationship.

"The project has been tainted from the very beginning. 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."

Born in North Carolina in 1933, Nina Simone - real name Eunice Waymon - recorded over 40 albums, fusing gospel and pop with a jazz singing style. The singer and civil rights activist died at the age of 70 in 2003. 

Despite extreme delays, Nina is set to be released this coming April. The film co-stars Selma actor David Oyelowo while first-timer Cynthia Mort directs.

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