All Articles Tagged "biopic"
In Zoe Saldana’s recent Allureinterview, the Afro-Latina female actor has once again stated that she is unconcerned with any backlash she receives for playing legendary singer and activist Nina Simone. In a perplexing statement, she compares her controversial casting as “The High Priestess of Soul” to Elizabeth Taylor playing Egyptian Queen Cleopatra VII in the 1960s.
“Let me tell you, if Elizabeth Taylor can be Cleopatra, I can be Nina — I’m sorry,” Saldana, 34, said unrepentantly. “It doesn’t matter how much backlash I will get for it. I will honor and respect my black community because that’s who I am.”
Who Saldana is may be clear to her, but her understanding of who Nina Simone was and from where the criticism stems appears to be minimal.
Saldana: Out of touch with African-American audiences?
Contrary to Saldana’s personal beliefs, the vast majority of observers who have weighed in on director Cynthia Mort’s decision to cast Saldana, from India.Arie to Nina Simone’s daughter, Simone Kelly, are black and view it as the ultimate show of disrespect. Not only because it is an aesthetically horrific choice that relies on blackface and prosthetics to pull off, but because Nina’s rich, dark skin, kinky hair and full lips shaped her life’s experiences, subsequently shaping her music.
Nina Simone would not have been able to conjure “Mississippi Goddam” and “Four Women” from the depths of her soul had she been born with more European features and straighter hair.
Further, it is both fitting and unsettling for Saldana to compare herself to Taylor. Cleopatra, whose black African heritage has been passionately argued for and against, has been described as both “tawny” by Shakespeare and a “negress” in some historical texts. For Saldana to claim that casting the extremely pale Elizabeth Taylor to play her somehow justifies her own misguided role as Nina Simone is a slap in the face of the black community she claims to represent.
Her history of ignoring racial history
And this is not Saldana’s first time brushing off criticism as inconsequential.
“What keeps me focused and what kept me from getting stressed from being hurt by the comments is I’m doing it for my sisters, I’m doing it for my brothers, and I don’t care who tells me I am not this and I am not that. I know who I am, and I know what Nina Simone means to me,” Saldana said in an interview with HipHollywood.com.
“I can only rely on that and maintain as much humility as possible, so that when I have to face the world and we have to then give the movie to the world to see, and share it with them, that if it comes back in . . . a negative fashion or positive, I’m gonna keep my chin up. And Nina was like that too. I did it all out of love for my people and my pride of being a black woman and a Latina woman and an American woman, and that’s my truth.”
Colorist privilege with questionable consequences
That curious blend of arrogance and accessibility seems to be the root of criticism aimed at Saldana. She is not embracing her community; she is saying through her dismissiveness that how we feel doesn’t matter. By ignoring the hurt of Nina’s family and the pain of black women who have been deemed too dark, too heavy, too ugly to be portrayed on film as anything other than maids, slaves, and whores, Saldana becomes part of the problem.
Read more on TheGrio.com.
Remember earlier this week when I said my faith in biopics was being restored? Scratch that.
EurWeb is reporting that a production company by the name of Noosa Films has a Josephine Baker biopic in the works and guess who’s the first choice to play the lead role? Rihanna.
Noosa Films reportedly won the rights to the iconic American and French dancer’s autobiography “Josephine” from French Publishers Editions Robert Laffont, and according to WENN, producer W. Lance Reynolds is praying Rihanna will accept the lead role. Reynolds said in a statement:
“Rihanna is one of the most talented performers of this millennium and with her unique acting and performing abilities I have no doubt she will bring Josephine back to life on the big screen”
Let the shade begin.
Though “Battleship” is the only work we have to judge Rihanna’s acting ability on, this part seems like a rather large undertaking for someone who is not an actor by trade. And let’s be real, Ri Ri didn’t exactly impress anyone with her 2012 debut movie role.
EurWeb points out that Diana Ross has ”long lobbied to bring Baker’s life in a biopic but to no avail,” I think some are hoping this push for Rihanna follows the same route. This is the second biopic in recent years that Rihanna’s name has been attached to. Immediately following Whitney Houston’s death last year, sources said the Bajan singer could be in the running to play her in a potential biopic in the future.
Do you think Rihanna can pull off the role of Josephine Baker? What actresses would you like to see come up for the part?
I don’t know how to feel about this bio-pic on TLC, which is currently in production.
Not that I am not a fan. The Grammy award-winning group, whose repertoire features a certified diamond plaque and the title to the most successful female groups of all times, pretty much had the 90s – as well as my tape deck – on lock. However when VH1 last week, announced that it had begun production on a full-length scripted film about the group’s rise to fame, a part of me couldn’t help to scrunch my face and say: it’s just too soon.
Irrespective of all the backlash on Twitter, my reservations have nothing to do with the current cast, which includes Lil Mama as Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez (so glad to see her working again and getting some respect), Drew Sidora (best known from “The Game”) as Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and KeKe Palmer as Rozonda Chili Thomas. While none of them would be considered my first choices, I think that they are all capable of rising up to the challenge of the roles they have been chosen to play. And although this film is being produced and will air on a network, whose only other scripted production is a melodramatic and badly acted series called “Single Ladies,” I am hopeful that director Charles Stone III, most known for Drumline and Paid in Full and screenwriter Kate Lanier, best known for What’s Love Got to Do With It and Glitter, will add some credibility to the project. Then again, considering how much I loved What’s Love Got to Do With It and wanted to Ike Turner the crap out of Glitter, it could go either way.
But what troubles me most about this production is how much of the real story are we going to get? According to VH1′s press release about the film, T-Boz and Chill have both signed on as consultants for the film. That might inspire confidence in some but we also have to remember that, besides the outside lawsuits and conflict with group manager Perri Pebblez Reid, there was a lot of conflict between group members, particularly Lopez strained relationship with Thomas and Watkins, which resulted in her publicly disassociating herself with not only the group’s third album, Fan Mail but threatening to leave the group all together. In response, Thomas and Watkins issued their own statements in the press calling Lopez, among other things, “selfish” and “evil.” And this resulted in a bizarre statement from Lopez, challenging Thomas and Watkins to some sort of album duel-off.
According to MTV News Lopez once said:
“I challenge Tionne ‘Player’ Watkins (T-Boz) and Rozonda ‘Hater’ Thomas (Chilli) to an album entitled The Challenge,” writes Lopes, “a 3-CD set that contains three solo albums. Each (album) … will be due to the record label by October 1, 2000.”
Now I’m not saying that Watkins and Thomas will try to pad the drama in hopes of making themselves look better. It should be noted that all the women of the group have always contended mutual love and respect for one another. What I am saying though is that the likelihood that we will get see a real behind-the-scenes view of TLC will be slim, considering one of the most vocal (and oppositional) members of the group is sadly not here to contribute her insight into how not only offer up her thoughts on how she should be played but be an objective lens into the Watkins and Thomas characters too.
It’s Like Nina Simone All Over Again: Marvin Gaye’s Son Shocked Lenny Kravitz Will Participate In ‘Shameful’ Biopic
I’m starting to think biopics are going out of style. While some celebs in Hollywood are practically begging for a movie to be made about their lives (Aretha I’m looking at you), the offspring of other notables are pushing for production on their parent’s stories to be shut down.
In the same vein of Nina Simone’s daughter who is vehemently opposed to the biopic being made about her mother, Marvin Gaye’s son, Marvin III, is speaking out against the film being made about his dad. Though the issue isn’t necessarily the person playing the part, there is similar concern over the direction of the biopic, which Marvin, Jr. calls “shameful.”
According to TMZ:
Marvin Gaye’s son wants his childhood friend Lenny Kravitz to walk away from the role of a lifetime — playing the Motown legend in an upcoming biopic — and says he’s shocked Lenny signed on for a project he calls “shameful.”
Kravitz will play Gaye in “Sexual Healing” (working title) — which reportedly focuses on Marvin’s life in the 80s when he battled drug abuse and depression … before his father shot and killed him in 1984.
Marvin Gaye III tells TMZ, “The producers and directors of this film are very wrong and shameful … [They're] trying to do a film about a low period in his life. They don’t even know the whole story.”
Marvin’s son says he and Kravitz were schoolmates — and remain friends to this day — so he wants to “talk to him about why he would do this.”
Marvin Jr. tells us he and other family members are meeting with lawyers to try to stop production — and added, “I would hope [Lenny] doesn’t have any idea that we are against this film being done.”
TMZ says they reached out to Kravitz for a comment but haven’t heard back from the singer. His close connection to the Gayes does somewhat explain his choice as the actor to take on this part though.
Maybe the issue here is that people don’t quite have a grasp on what a biopic is. If you do a film about someone’s life, you have to tell the whole story — good and bad — plus it’s not like the movie will really be revealing anything that anyone doesn’t already know about the troubled singer. Considering Nina Simone’s biopic is still going forward despite very outspoken opposition, I would think Marvin III’s only hope in this situation is to actually help the directors out and give them the entire story, then hope for the best.
What do you think?
Halle Berry might be sipping on some of that Aretha Franklin right now — but not in a way that’s beneficial to the Queen of Soul. You know Re-Re has been going hardcore to get Halle to play her in a biopic, to which the actress basically said, thanks but no thanks. Turns out, Halle has a girl crush of her own who she’s thirsty to play and appears to be getting nowhere with: Angela Davis.
In the latest issue of In Style, which Halle Berry covers, she tells the magazine it’s her dream to play the civil rights activist in a major Hollywood picture.
“Her story is so fascinating,” she said. “I would love to bring it to the screen. I would pick her brain to have a better understanding of her affiliation with the Black Panthers and that period from the 1960s.”
Shadow and Act pointed out that this isn’t the first time Halle has been vocal about her dream role. In January 2011, she told JET:
“I’ll probably never get to play it in my life and I am going to be sad until the day I die, but I really want to play Angela Davis-badly,” she said. “So badly. I just think she’s fascinating and I think I would love to tell a story from her perspective about that time in our history and what it was all about with the black panthers.”
Answering the obvious question of why this biopic hasn’t happened, S&A added that there had been unconfirmed rumors that Halle actually met with Angela Davis before her JET interview but the ’60s and ’70s activist wasn’t interested in signing over the rights to her life. Whether that’s true or not is unknown.
It’s been a hot minute since Halle took on a serious role, and though the 46-year-old looks amazing, time is running out for her to play a mid-20-something, afro-wearing revolutionary. She might have to hang this one up just like Aretha.
Do you think Halle could pull off playing Angela Davis?
Last week we showed you a few preliminary pics of Zoe Saldana’s transformation toward becoming the Nina Simone and from the looks of some new pics that have hit the Internet, the process appears to be complete. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing, I’ll let you decide.
The good news is the prosthetic nose and new teeth are still there, the afro has been trimmed, and Zoe’s skin has been darkened. Is she a dead ringer for Nina? Not exactly. Can she pass with independent film special effects and lighting? Probably.
Though we’ve heard a great deal from Cynthia Mort, the director behind this project, and Nina Simone’s own daughter, Simone, one person who hasn’t said a thing about this lead role is Zoe Saldana herself. Perhaps she plans to just let her work speak for herself rather than answer the critics directly, as there are quite a few of them. Who knows, maybe she can blow this part out of the park.
Here’s another look at Zoe’s transformation. Shadow and Act has a few new photos as well. What do you think?
From Hello Beautiful
I remember the first time I met Ernest Green, the first to graduate Central High School of the Little Rock Nine–that group of students who made school integration in America a moment of historical and democratic note. I learned about him watching a Disney movie, as a 10 year-old, which effortlessly offered more depth than the five pages of study on the entirety of the Civil Rights Movement allotted in my college preparatory school’s 500-plus-page American history book. So when he shook my hand, years later as a recent college graduate, I responded, “I guess you do look like Morris Chestnut.” We shared a laugh.
The power of Hollywood film imagery rests in the fact that not too many people really takes the time separate biopic from fact. So, the growing clamor around the casting choice for a film on Nina Simone, which would be the first major telling on a subcultural hero for African beauty, is worth note.
Read more at Hello Beautiful
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From The Grio
Actress Tasha Smith currently stars in Tyler Perry’s hit TBS sitcom For Better or Worse. On the show she plays Angela Williams, a character made popular in Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? film and its sequel.
During a recent interview with theGrio’s Chris Witherspoon, Smith talked about how she is a multi-talented entrepreneur with numerous business ventures in the works, including a fragrance, acting workshop, wig line and speaker’s bureau. She revealed that a lot of her inspiration comes from Perry.
“I learn a lot from him and he is so inspirational and has been such a support system with me. He always encourages me to go and do what God called me to do, and to have faith,” Smith said.
The Jumping the Broom star also revealed that her dream role is to play Donna Summer is a movie biopic.
Read more at The Grio
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R&B singer Ne-Yo made headlines recently when he revealed that he turned down the chance to play Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. because he didn’t want to gain 30 pounds. He may have passed on a career defining opportunity, but after his role in Red Tails, maybe not…
In the acting world, getting the chance to play someone famous in a biopic is sure to take a career to the next level, and these days, everybody is doing it. Usher has already spoken out about the high expectations he has for his upcoming role as Sugar Ray Leonard. He wants an Oscar. He’d be following in the footsteps of fellow entertainers and actors who have stepped into the shoes of iconic public figures and created a path towards podiums in doing so.
Denzel was robbed of an Oscar for his portrayal of slain civil rights activist Malcolm X in 1993. Denzel assumed the identity of the complex man with ease and grace. He spoke the way Malcolm spoke. He carried himself the way Malcolm did and he made people feel as passionately about the Nation of Islam as the leader did with his nuanced performance. Denzel thoroughly inhabited the role of Malcolm through his cadence, posture and every inflection to the point where it felt he was no longer acting. He became Malcolm Little turned unconventional hero. Denzel may not have won the Oscar for the biopic, but the universal praise for his performance should be a fitting consolation.
Tags:Angela Bassett, beyonce, biopic, cadillac records, denzel washington, Dorothy Dandridge, dr. martin luther king jr, etta james, halle berry, ike turner, Jamie Foxx, jennifer lopez, laurence fishburne, malcolm x, morgan freeman, Muhammad Ali, Ne-Yo, Nelson Mandela, oscar, Ray Charles', Selena, sugar ray leonard, tina turner, Usher, Will Smith
Andre 3000 may not be releasing music of his own anytime soon but we’ll still get to witness his creative genius in action as he prepares to take on the lead role in a biopic based on the life of famed electric guitarist Jimi Hendrix.
“All Is by My Side” will be set during Jimi Hendrix’s time in England between 1966 and 1967, as he began work on his debut project, Are You Experienced, which is widely regarded by critics to feature some of the greatest guitar music ever created. The feature film will be written and directed by John Ridley, who wrote the screenplays for “Red Tails” and “U-Turn,” and I predict excellence.
Though I can totally see Andre as Jimi, critics are a tad skeptical. MTV News senior writer Gil Kaufman wrote:
“Considering his just-passable acting in ‘Idlewild,’ the jury’s still out on whether Andre can carry a movie on his own, but given his virtual retirement from music since that movie’s release — ‘Semi-Pro’ was a small step in the right direction — and word that he’s been taking acting lessons, the Hendrix movie could do for him what ‘Dreamgirls’ did for Jennifer Hudson.
“Andre has the musical chops, the artistic sensibility and a devotion to his craft that makes me think he wouldn’t take on this iconic role without knowing that he had something deep to offer,” Kaufman continued. “Plus, as he’s proven over and over with his many note-perfect, bulls-eye features on songs since he stopped recording his own albums, when he shoots, he shoots to kill.”
Rumors of several Jimi Hendrix biopics have erupted over the past 10 years or so but it seems this one will finally come to fruition. “All is by My Side” is reportedly in pre-production with principal photography set to begin in just three weeks in Dublin and Wicklow. The pressure is definitely on.
How do you think three stacks will add up in this role?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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