Just months after the Nina Simone Netflix documentary (What Happened, Miss Simone?), the soul singer will be featured on film again, this time in an upcoming biopic called Nina from first-time director Cynthia Mort. There's already been a lot of controversy surrounding the film, especially when light-skinned, multiracial actress Zoe Saldana was cast to play the dark-skinned Simone after Mary J. Blige dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Why does the shade of her skin matter so much? Because Simone, both a musician and political activist, faced racism for not just being black but being dark-skinned—it's a point that drives much of her narrative and struggle, and it's a crucial part of her identity. Hollywood diversity is so much more nuanced than just black and white.
Simone's daughter Lisa Simone Kelly has been vocal about the poor casting choice and even said she decided to participate in the Liz Garbus-directed doc last year because she was "so disturbed by the script for Nina" and emphasized getting the doc out before this upcoming film. Nina focuses on the later years of her career, when she lived in mostly isolation in France. Selma star David Oyelowo stars as her assistant/manager Clifton Henderson.
Watch the trailer here or below. Nina comes out April 22.