The long-anticipated Nina Simone biopic, starring Zoe Saldana as the iconic singer-songwriter and civil rights activist, is finally coming to theaters.
RLJ Entertainment announced that it has acquired North American rights to Nina, and the film will be released this December.
“I had the special privilege early in my career of working with Ms. Simone while coordinating a performance for former D.C. Delegate Walter E. Fauntroy and knowing first-hand of her major contribution to the soul and emotion of the Civil Rights Movement,” RLJE chairman and BET founder Robert L. Johnson said in a statement. “I look forward as I am sure many others will, to her story and legacy being made available by RLJ Entertainment to consumers on various media platforms in the coming months.”
Written and directed by newcomer Cynthia Mort, Nina follows the rise of the legendary American vocalist, a 15-time Grammy nominee known for iconic standards like “My Baby Just Cares For Me,” “Feeling Good,” and “To Be Young Gifted and Black.” Her struggles to balance her career and her activism left her living alone in France, feeling isolated from her own country. It was there that she met Clifton Henderson (David Oyelowo), who became her assistant.
Nina’s release has been delayed for several years, with casting changes, public controversy, and even a lawsuit. Mary J. Blige was originally attached to star as Simone back in 2010, but she dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. She was replaced by Saldana, but some criticized the new casting, saying that Saldana, who is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, was too petite and light-skinned to play Simone. The film’s release was delayed further when Mort herself filed a lawsuit against the production company last year.
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