The creator of Nina Simone’s biopic wasn’t particularly concerned with appearance when casting the film.
Despite the fact that there’s a petition to recast the role, Cynthia Mort, who wrote and will direct Nina, told the New York Times that the film isn’t a traditional biography. Although Nina will follow the story of Nina Simone’s life, it’s supposed to be more of a "love story about an artist’s journey unto herself."
Although Cynthia feels that Nina has an interesting story, she’s not trying to do a by-the-book biography. “There’s a difference 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," Cynthia explained. "That is also a great story, but that’s not what we’re telling in that kind of linear fashion.”
It should be noted that Zoe’s casting isn’t exactly a done deal, as Cynthia revealed to the Times. She’s still in the process of confirming that Zoe will take on the role. Zoe replaced Mary J. Blige as the lead candidate to play Nina earlier this year.
Even so, Nina’s daughter Simone Kelly does not agree with casting Zoe to play the legendary soul singer. "As a child, my mother was told her nose was too big and she was too dark," Simone said of her mother in a letter Nina’s fans on Facebook.
The siren’s daughter also took issue with that fact that Clifton Henderson would be Nina’s love interest/caretaker in Nina, which she claims would not be an accurate portrayal either. "Clifton Henderson was gay. He was not attracted to women," Simone wrote. "So, the truth is…Nina Simone and Clifton Henderson NEVER had a relationship other than a business one."