Nina Simone’s family is “not upset with Zoe [Saldana]” over her portrayal of Simone in the upcoming biopic Nina, Simone’s daughter revealed in a recent interview.
Lisa Simone Kelly, the singer’s only child, talked to Time about the recent tweet slamming Saldana that was sent out from the verified Twitter account representing her mother’s estate. Kelly said she was unaware of the tweet. Simone’s family said they hired a family friend to manage the official website and Facebook page years ago, but when Time contacted the friend, Aaron Overfield, he did not return requests for comment.
.@zoesaldana Cool story but please take Nina’s name out your mouth. For the rest of your life.
— Nina Simone (@NinaSimoneMusic) March 3, 2016
“It’s unfortunate that Zoe Saldana is being attacked so viciously when she is someone who is part of a larger picture,” said Kelly. “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.”
Simone’s family members have been clear about their disapproval of the controversial Nina biopic, which they say falsely depicts the relationship between Simone and her manager, Clifton Henderson, played by David Oyelowo.
“The movie is about a relationship between my mother and Clifton, which never took place. They never had an amorous relationship,” said Kelly, adding that Henderson is gay. “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 said that after watching the trailer for the film, which premieres on April 22, she “really didn’t feel much of anything except for, ‘poor Zoe.’ “
Saldana has been criticized for having paler skin than Simone — the actress wore a prosthetic nose and dark makeup for her role in the film. Kelly told Time her family is “not upset with Zoe,” but they don’t think she was the right choice, appearancewise.
“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,” said Kelly. “And Nina, in my opinion, doesn’t do any of that.”