Nina Simone’s daughter defends Zoe Saldana; still hates film

Zoe Saldana
Photo Credit: RLJ Entertainment /

The backlash and controversy surrounding the upcoming Zoe Saldana led biopic on the life of beloved music icon Nina Simone has been far and wide.

Everyone from bewildered fans to fellow actresses have weighed in on the issue (usually with criticism of Saldana) since promotion of the film began to kick into high gear last week culminating in the first poster and trailer being released.

Surprisingly, Simone’s daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, has come to Saldana’s defense, stating that she is “not upset” with her portraying her mother, but that her problem with the film lies within the actual script.

“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 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.”

Of course, since Saldana was given the role in 2012, many people have openly decried the decision to cast the fair skinned actress to play Simone, who was of a darker complexion. Uproar kicked into high gear when the first images from the movie’s set began to circulate depicting Saldana in what some consider to be a form of modern day blackface. Simone Kelly’s issue with the film, however, is the accuracy of the script. The story follows the relationship between Simone and her former nurse-turned-manager Clifton Henderson, which Simone Kelly says is inaccurate and adds that 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 contends, even revealing 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.”

Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that issues surrounding the film are quite compelling.

Nina open in theaters on April 22.

TJ Armour
TJ Armour

"I'm not a biter, I'm a writer for myself and others."

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