March 3 saw the release of the trailer and poster for the new film Nina, based on the life of Nina Simone. Unfortunately for the film makers and the star of the film Zoe Saldana, Simone’s relatives were not too impressed.
The family, in particular Simone’s daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, were already riled up at the casting of Saldana back in 2012, due to her Dominican and Puerto Rican origins, and Kelly was quoted saying, appearance wise Saldana was “not the best choice”.
However it seems like Ealing Studios Entertainment and Londinium Films, the production companies, have not allow old wounds to heal as in the trailer, they appear to have dressed Saldana in skin-darkening make-up and a prosthetic nose.
Not the best move then, from the producers, who had already faced an online petition of more than 11,500 people calling for them to sack Saldana from the film. On refusing to do so, the petition has now changed its focus to stopping the film altogether, but it looks like it has also failed on that front.
The feud itself sparked on twitter where Saldana seems to have reacted to criticism of the trailer by posting Simone’s own words “I’ll tell you what freedom is to me – No Fear… I mean really, no fear. #Ninasimone”. The reaction from Simone’s official account, @NinaSimoneMusic, usually run by the family, must have taken even Saldana by surprise asking her to “please take Nina’s name out of your mouth. For the rest of your life.”
.@zoesaldana Cool story but please take Nina's name out your mouth. For the rest of your life.
— Nina Simone (@NinaSimoneMusic) March 3, 2016
Kelly had previously backed either Kimberly Elise or Viola Davis to play her mother because “Both of the actresses that I’ve mentioned are women of colour, are women with beautiful, luscious lips and wide noses, and who know their craft”, but the casting of Saldana raises another row over heritage and race, which seems to be common place in the modern day topic of political correctness.
The film is due for release in the US on April 22, however there is yet to be a UK release date. The Simone family appear to be a PR nightmare for their representatives and this film certainly looks to add fuel to the fire. If that was the reaction to the trailer, then expect there to be a late frost this Easter.
“I’m a real rebel with a cause” – Nina Simone