*The Nina Simone biopic, starring Zoe Saldana as the late singer-songwriter, has been acquired by BET founder Robert L. Johnson’s RLJ Entertainment, the company announced Thursday.
RLJ is planning a December release for “Nina,” which also stars “Selma’s” David Oyelowo.
The film is not without controversy, as critics took issue with the casting of a light-skinned actress to play Simone. The script from director Cynthia Mort traces the career of the singer and civil rights activist, following her struggle to balance music, family and what she believes in, which leaves her living alone in France feeling exiled from her own country.
Things for her turn around when she meets Clifton Henderson (Oyelowo) who helps the high priestess of soul rediscover meaning in her life and music, and to once again embrace America.
“I am very excited that RLJ Entertainment will be distributing Nina Simone’s biopic with the tremendous talent involved including Zoe Saldana and David Oyelowo,” said Robert L. Johnson, RLJE Chairman, in a statement.
“I had the special privilege early in my career of working with Ms. Simone while coordinating a performance for former D.C. Delegate Walter E. Fauntroy and knowing first-hand of her major contribution to the soul and emotion of the Civil Rights Movement. I look forward as I am sure many others will, to her story and legacy being made available by RLJ Entertainment to consumers on various media platforms in the coming months.”