Since the inception of the forthcoming Nina Simone film was made public, those against the production of the motion picture have voiced their alarm. Primarily on social media, fans of the famed artist were upset to learn of the movie’s casting choice of Zoe Saldana, not for her acting, but for the non-resemblance to the revered vocalist.
Earlier this week, Simone’s estate on Twitter even voiced their opposition to the casting decision, which was made known by a tweet in response to Saldana’s quote of the “Love Me or Leave Me” singer. “Cool story but please take Nina’s name out your mouth. For the rest of your life,” it reads.
.@zoesaldana Cool story but please take Nina’s name out your mouth. For the rest of your life.
— Nina Simone (@NinaSimoneMusic) March 3, 2016
All of the mixed reactions have now prompted Simone’s daughter, Leslie Simone Kelly, to share her thoughts on the matter. In an interview with Time, Kelly said, “It’s unfortunate that Zoe Saldana is being attacked so viciously when she is someone who is part of a larger picture.” She then continued, “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.”
The film will tell the story of Simone’s relationship with her manager, Clifton Henderson (depicted by David Oyelowo). But according to Kelly, this was a completely false occurrence. “They never had an amorous relationship. The project has been tainted from the very beginning,” she said. “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.”
On the subject of Saldana’s fair skin as compared to Simone’s darker hue, Kelly said there were certainly other “superb actresses of color” who could’ve taken on the role of her mother in addition to “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.”
Nina is slated for a April 22 theatrical release. View the trailer below.