Posted by | Ray Cornelius

The internet is abuzz with the recent news that Latin actress, Zoe Saldana has replaced Mary J. Blige in an up-coming biopic about African American jazz, blues and folk singer Nina Simone.

According to S&A, Saldana replaced Mary J. Blige after several film delays and also because Mary decided to star in the musical Rock of Ages.

The film, which has been in development for a few years now, will focus on Simone’s relationship with her Paris-based manager Clifton Henderson who is being played by Red Tails star David Oyelowo.

So what is all the fuss about?

Well, it’s not that Saldana is not a good enough actress or that she isn’t a singer or classically trained pianist. It’s the fact that she looks nothing like Simone, who was known for her strikingly full lips, coarsely braided hair and espresso colored skin. Many feel that the role should at least be played by an actress that resembles Simone such as Adepero Oduye or Viola Davis or even singer India.Arie.

This isn’t the first time an actress has been cast in a musical biopic to the chagrin of public opinion and movie critics.

Diana Ross received a lot of negative press in 1971 when it was announced that she would be playing jazz and blues singer Billie Holliday in Lady Sings the Blues.  Many critics felt that Ross and Holliday were “miles apart” in terms of vocal styling and appearance. However, Ross quieted her critics when she was nominated for an Academy Award.

So is this film going to be Zoe Saldana’s LSTB?  We’ll just have to see about that.

For now, fans can remain somewhat calm since no official announcement has been made. In the meantime, enjoy one of our favorite Nina Simone tunes entitled Four Women:

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