All Articles Tagged "Cynthia Mort"
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 the looks of things, i.e. set photos, it appears the Nina Simone biopic is going forward with Zoe Saldana playing the lead part. Shadow and Act published a couple of photos they obtained from the set of the new film and what we see so far is pretty interesting.
As the site notes, no one is sure during which stage of the makeup process these candids were captured, but they do reveal some telling bits of the actress’s transformation. On the positive side, Zoe will be donning the afro which Nina was so fond of in the flick and it also appears teeth and a nose fashioned after the multi-faceted singer’s have been created for the actress as well. What remains to be seen is whether Zoe’s skin, which has been the major point of contention for her choice as the lead, will be darkened. I imagine if the artists have taken these other elements of Nina into consideration, they won’t neglect that detail, and it looks as though there is some darkening around Zoe’s neck in these pics. But you never know.
Makeup job aside, in addition to details that Mike Epps is joining the cast as Richard Pryor. It’s also been announced that David Oyelowo has been cast as Nina’s manager, Clifton Henderson, whom according to the NY Times will be portrayed as having some sort of romantic relationship with her — much to the singer’s daughter, Simone Kelly’s, disappointment. So yes, more creative licensing to come.
But for now let’s just stick with what we see before us. What do you think of Zoe’s Nina Simone look so far?
The blackosphere has been pining over the choice of Zoe Saldana for a movie based on the life of Nina Simone for some time now, but the New York Times is attempting to get to the bottom of all the backlash — and the casting choice — in a new report.
The article notes that the angst over the placement of a lighter-skinned Afro-latina woman who doesn’t sing in a film about the life of a dark-skinned jazz artist from the south isn’t limited to mere discussions over the Internet. A petition has been started to replace Zoe with an actress who actually looks like Nina. Cynthia Mort, the writer and director of the film, isn’t looking to oblige. As the Times reports:
According to Ms. Mort, who is white, the film was not intended to be a biography in the strict sense, but instead “a love story about an artist’s journey unto herself,” she said.
“There’s a difference,” she added, “between telling a story that includes and involves emotion and experiences and doing a biopic — she was born here, she did this, she did that. That is also a great story, but that’s not what we’re telling in that kind of linear fashion.”
Ms. Mort said that she was still in the process of confirming whether Ms. Saldana would play Simone. David Oyelowo will play Simone’s companion and love interest, a composite character based on Simone’s manager and caretaker, Clifton Henderson.
The singer Mary J. Blige was first cast to play Simone until she had to bow out for what Ms. Mort described as “scheduling issues,” though Ms. Blige said publicly she had spent years preparing for the role. The rumors of Ms. Saldana’s casting prompted Simone’s daughter, Simone Kelly, to write a note to her mother’s fans on the official Nina Simone Facebook page. Ms. Kelly, who was born Lisa Celeste Stroud, said that the project was unauthorized, and that Simone’s estate had not been asked permission or been asked to participate in the film.
“My mother was raised at a time when she was told her nose was too wide, her skin was too dark,” Ms. Kelly said in an interview. “Appearance-wise this is not the best choice,” she added, referring to Ms. Saldana.
Ms. Kelly, who described herself as a fan of Ms. Saldana’s work, said she would have preferred to see actresses like Viola Davis or Kimberly Elise. She added that her mother’s own choice to play her was Whoopi Goldberg.
Ms. Kelly also took issue with the creative license taken by Ms. Mort’s script, particularly the story line that Simone had a romantic relationship with Mr. Henderson. In the Facebook post Ms. Kelly wrote: “Clifton Henderson was gay. He was not attracted to women. So, the truth is … Nina Simone and Clifton Henderson NEVER had a relationship other than a business one.”
Ms. Mort described Mr. Henderson’s character as “a composite of many different loves and aspects of love in Nina’s life.”
It appears Ms. Mort is taking a number of creative licenses with the making of “Nina,” none of which scholar yaba Blay approves of. She told the Times:
“The power of her aesthetics was part of [Nina Simone's] power. This was a woman who prevailed and triumphed despite her aesthetic.” Dark-skinned actresses are “already erased from the media, especially in the role of the ‘it girl’ or the love interest.”
What do you think about the director’s explanation for Zoe Saldana’s casting?
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