Thursday, August 11, 2022

Nina Simone’s Daughter Defends Zoe Saldana, Her Brother…Not So Much

nina simone and zoe saldana

*Nina Simone’s only daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, says she has no issue with Zoe Saldana portraying her mother in the upcoming biopic “Nina,” and she denies being behind that snarky tweet Simone’s estate sent to Zoe shortly after the new trailer for the film debuted last week.

Perhaps Nina Simone’s brother, Sam Waymon, sent the sensational tweet to the actress? Brother Sam is not here for the casting of Zoe, and he told Page Six that he’s “outraged” over her casting.

“If I was asked to play someone of the monumental stature of Nina Simone, I would’ve had to think a thousand times before saying yes,” Waymon told Page Six. “I’m outraged by the fact that Zoe Saldana was chosen.”

The family, fans and progressive folks were outraged in 2012 when pictures of Saldana in black face and a prosthetic nose surfaced, and those emotions were reignited when a new poster and trailer dropped last week.

“Nina Simone . . . didn’t have a fake nose or fake lips. Everything about her was real. Why would you go with something made up like that?” Waymon said. “Blackface was used by Hollywood early on to dehumanize and to not have to cast [blacks] . . . I would have thought more highly of [Saldana] if she would’ve turned down the role.”

Meanwhile, the production company behind the biopic has come to Saldana’s defense, saying she “delivers an exceptional and mesmerizing tribute to Nina Simone.”

Simone Kelly, doesn’t share her uncle’s sentiment over the casting of a Dominican/Puerto Rican woman playing a dark-skinned African American woman.

Nina Simone's daughter, Lisa
Nina Simone’s daughter, Lisa

“It’s unfortunate that Zoë Saldana is being attacked so viciously when she is someone who is part of a larger picture,” Simone Kelly, 53, told Time. “it’s clear she brought her best to this project but unfortunately she’s being attached when she’s not responsible for any of the writing or the lies.”

Simone Kelly’s issue is the storyline of the film, which follows an inaccurate relationship between Simone and her former nurse-turned-manager Clifton Henderson. She says the “project has been tainted from the very beginning.”

“The movie is about a relationship between my mother and Clifton that never took place. They never had an amorous relationship,” she said, adding that Henderson was gay. “Clearly, it is not the truth about my mother’s life and everyone knows that. This is not how you want your loved ones remembered.”

Wayman adds that Saldana and the film’s director, Cynthia Mort never consulted with the family regarding the project.

“Clifton was a gay man,” said Waymon. “In addition to a prosthetic nose and blackface, now they’re making a gay man straight. It’s a disgrace to the gay community. It’s disrespectful to Nina, who was about the truth.”

When it comes to who should have played Simone, Waymon had someone more deserving in mind.

“She probably would’ve liked a Viola Davis-type of person . . . Someone with that disposition and personality — anyone other than the person playing her now.”

“Nina” hits theaters on April 22.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.




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