Nina Simone Biopic Will Focus on Love Affair with Gay Man
Zoe Saldana has been announced as star of the long-gestating film biography of late music icon Nina Simone, but the singer's daughter is questioning the love story in the film because the man depicted as her mother's lover was actually gay.
Simone's daughter Lisa Celeste Stroud, who now uses the stage name Simone, makes it clear that the project is not only unauthorized but inaccurate. The screenplay, written by Cynthia Mort, who is also set to direct, has been in development for years with Mary J. Blige attached to star as the legendary vocalist. Saldana was announced as the lead last week opposite David Oyelowo, soon to be seen in The Paperboy, as her manager-nurse, Clifton Henderson.
Simone takes issue with a plot point in the screenplay, which according to her depicts a romantic relationship between her mother and Henderson. Indiewire reports that Simone has posted a message on her Facebook account that reads:
When the announcement initially hit the press with MJ Blige cast as Nina (about 6 yrs ago) I heard it along with everyone else. The story was written as a love story between my mother and her former nurse, Clifton Henderson and primarily takes place during the last 8 years of her life. Please note, this project is unauthorized. The Nina Simone Estate was never asked permission nor invited to participate. ...
Clifton Henderson was gay. He was not attracted to women. So, the truth is...Nina Simone and Clifton Henderson NEVER had a relationship other than a business one. Please correct me, but isn't a biopic the story of one's life? ...
For all she endured while here and all of the lives she has touched, she DESERVES to be remembered for who she truly was; not some made up love story from a former nurse/manager (now deceased) who sold his life rights because of his relationship to Nina Simone.