*As 2014 continues into its second half, Zoe Saldana is riding a wave of good fortune.
However, it’s Saldana’s role as Nina Simone that has garnered the most attention as of late, due to controversy surrounding her being chosen to play the legendary jazz singer more than a year ago, among other things.
Those other things include producers of the film finding foreign sales and distributors in addition to screening the film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, not to mention a lawsuit filed by director Cynthia Mort claiming its British production company has hijacked the film, blackfilm.com reports. At this time, no feedback has come in regarding a distributor.
In the latest issue of Monarch magazine, Saldana opens up about the casting drama as well as her preparation for bringing Simone to the big screen.
Highlights from the interview are below:
Playing the late, great Nina Simone, what inspired you to do a project like this?
Zoe Saldana: Nina was a true genius and an iconic artist. It was a dream job for me. It’s one of the scariest projects I’ve ever been involved with because it was about an iconic figure, and there were so many political [issues] around it from the beginning; but I really wanted it to be a love song to Nina Simone and I wanted it to just come from a place of absolute love. I loved the complexity of Nina and her beauty that she expressed with her music. I wanted to do right by her and knew it would be challenging. I feel so blessed to have such an amazing opportunity to play a true legend.
How did you prepare for the role?
ZS: I did a lot of research to prepare for Nina. I took piano lessons, voice lessons, worked with a dialect coach, and I really invested months of just doing research about Nina – her background, her story, her life. My research ranged from reading books about Nina, listening to her music, watching footage of her.
How did the controversy about you playing Nina affect you?
ZS: The Nina Simone story needed to be told, and I’m really blessed that I did it. I’m human. I wish I was made of steel and so certain things wouldn’t affect me. So it did affect me but I couldn’t let that deter me from doing what I needed to do. Just like everybody else I feel very strongly about Nina Simone, and that [this] was a story that needed to be told. I do believe that if everybody had more information about how this all came to be, it might help; but then again, I’m not here to get the acceptance of everyone – I’m here to be an artist first. Hopefully people will enjoy the film and I helped shed some light on this amazing iconic.
To read more from Zoe Saldana’s interview, click here.