Extending an olive branch. Just one day after Nina Simone’s estate lashed out at Zoe Saldana via Twitter on Wednesday, March 2, the legendary singer’s daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, came to the actress’ defense during an interview with Time published on Thursday, March 3.
Simone Kelly (who doesn’t manage her mother’s estate’s Twitter account) explained why she’s “not upset” at Saldana for portraying her mom in the upcoming biopic Nina.
“It’s unfortunate that Zoe Saldana is being attacked so viciously when she is someone who is part of a larger picture,” the 53-year-old singer-actress told the outlet. “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.”
While she isn’t taking aim at Saldana, Simone Kelly is still unhappy about the Cynthia Mort–directed project. She pointed out that the film’s main story arc, which focuses on Simone’s personal relationship with her manager Clifton Henderson (played by David Oyelowo), is a complete fabrication.
“The movie is about a relationship between my mother and Clifton that never took place. They never had an amorous relationship,” the famed jazz vocalist’s daughter said, adding that Henderson was 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.”
As Us Weekly previously reported, Nina Simone’s estate’s verified Twitter account slammed Saldana after the Avatar star tweeted the following quote: "'I'll tell you what freedom is to me — No Fear … I mean really, no fear.' #NinaSimone”
Simone's estate replied: “.@zoesaldana Cool story but please take Nina's name out your mouth. For the rest of your life.”
Saldana was cast as Simone in 2012, which didn’t sit well with many people. Critics were displeased that the actress — who is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent — would play the African American star, who passed away at age 70 in April 2003.
Saldana responded to the backlash during a 2013 interview with Latina magazine. "People are going to want to outcast you and put you someplace, and it's like, you can have any opinion about it, and that is fine, as long as you understand that it's going to come second to how I feel about myself," she said at the time. "I was already a part of this project and my priority was Nina, and the love that I feel for this woman, for her music and what she left us. Let's all give ourselves a chance to watch it and then make a decision."
Nina is set to hit theaters April 22.
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