R&B singer Mary J. Blige is set to star in a biopic about legendary jazz musician and civil rights activist Nina Simone, announced The Hollywood Reporter from Cannes on May 13.
Directed by Cynthia Mort ( Rosanne, Will & Grace, HBO's Tell Me You Love Me), Nina will focus on Simone's relationship with her assistant Clifton Henderson, to be played by British actor David Oyelowo (BBC's Small Island).
Nina Simone died in 2003 at the age of 70. She became legendary as a jazz and soul singer with such songs as "My Baby Just Cares for Me", "I Put a Spell on You", "I Loves You Porgy" from
Porgy and Bess, "Feeling Good", and "To Be Young, Gifted and Black." During the 1960s, Simone became a passionate activist for the civil rights movement, including the theme in her performing repertory and speaking at civil rights meetings. Also in the 1960s, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a fact that was not revealed until after the singer's death.
Mary J. Blige has won eight Grammys for her nine albums and sold nearly 45 million records worldwide. Her acting credits include guest appearances on television shows 30 Rock, The Jamie Foxx Show, Ghost Whisperer, and Strong Medicine, and supporting role in the 2009 film Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself.