Zoe Zaldana Plays Nina Simone (video)

zoe-saldana-nina-simone2“Based on a true story” rarely means “based on the whole story” or even “based on the accounts given by the people who were actually there.” In fact, many filmmakers don’t consult with or receive the blessing of the subject of their “true stories” or their families.

As you can imagine this can cause a lot of bad blood.While many Nina Simone (in the summer of 1969 she performed at the Harlem Cultural Festival in Harlem’s Mount Morris Park – see below) fans were outraged over Dominican-American actress Zoe Saldana playing the late soul singer in her upcoming  biopic, none should be more upset than Nina’s own daughter, Lisa Celeste Stroud, who goes by the name Simone. While she was disappointed that they didn’t get an actress who better resembled her mother, her biggest issue is the fact that no one attempted to get the family’s input or blessing for the film. The director was instructed not to contact Simone, and instead bought the life rights to her mother’s manager’s life in order to make the film.


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"The Clark Legacy Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark and their work," this post is made in partnership with Harlem Cultural Archives, get more at Harlem History.


  1. For whatever reason, many directors today feel it is not necessary to consult with the families of famous, departed figures whose lives are being made into a film. Maybe it isn’t necessary, but it certainly would be more respectful and considerate to do so. All I can say is if I were directing a biopic, I would try by any legal means possible to get in touch with any family members first because their opinions would matter to me.

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