“She’s Not Responsible:” Nina Simone’s Daughter Comes To Zoe Saldana’s Defense

March 4, 2016  |  

Nina-posterIn the midst of the Nina Simone biopic controversy, the last person we’d expect to see come to the defense of Zoe Saldana, who’s been heavily criticized for essentially wearing Blackface in the film and dishonoring the singer’s legacy, is Simone’s daughter. But that’s exactly who spoke out against critics of the actress in an interview with TIME magazine yesterday.

Asked how she felt watching the trailer for the film which was released Wednesday, Simone’s 53-year-old daughter Simone Kelly said: “I really didn’t feel much of anything except for poor Zoe.”

That response is far different from that of Nina Simone’s official Twitter account which two days ago basically told Saldana to keep the musician’s name out of her mouth.

Kelly said she was unaware of the tweet before TIME brought it to her attention and she doesn’t agree with the slight toward Saldana at all.

“It’s unfortunate that Zoe Saldana is being attacked so viciously when she is someone who is part of a larger picture. It’s clear she brought her best to this project, but unfortunately she’s being attacked when she’s not responsible for any of the writing or the lies.

“The movie is about a relationship between my mother and Clifton (Simone’s manager whom Kelly noted was a gay man) which never took place. They never had an amorous relationship. The project has been tainted from the very beginning. Clearly, it is not the truth about my mother’s life and everyone now knows that. This is not how you want your loved ones remembered.”

Kelly stated she and her family hired family friend Aaron Overfield to manage Nina Simone’s official website and Facebook page years ago, but it’s unclear who’s responsible for Tuesday’s tweets. And although Kelly has made it clear she and her family are “not upset with Zoe,” she doesn’t believe Saldana was a “proper choice, appearance-wise.”

“There are many superb actresses of color who could more adequately represent my mother and could bring her to the screen with the proper script, the proper team and a sense of wanting to bring the truth of my mother’s journey to the masses. And Nina, in my opinion, doesn’t do any of that.

“I’m no longer bothered by it because the truth is already out there. I don’t have to justify, define or educate anybody about my mother anymore. It’s a wonderful feeling. I’m free in a way that I have never been before.”

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