Nina Simone was a singer, songwriter and performer whose songs engaged audiences in the turmoil of the Civil Rights era and earned her the moniker "High Priestess of Soul."
Now it seems that the high priestess of Pandora might get a shot at playing her onscreen as The Playlist reports that "Avatar" star Zoe Saldana is up for a role in "Nina," a biopic originally slated to star Mary J. Blige in the title role, but who has now exited.
Thing is, the site is not sure if Saldana is filling the lead slot that Blige left or is playing the more age appropriate role of her daughter Simone, a.k.a. Lisa Celeste Stroud, also a Broadway performer. The film itself, based on Simone's autobiography, "I Put A Spell On You," is said to focus on the elder Nina's later years in a relationship with assistant Clifton Henderson, to be played by "Red Tails" star David Oyelowo.
The project is slated to be written and directed by Cynthia Mort, who also wrote the "Jodie Foster gets empowered by shooting men" movie "The Brave One."
Simone was an accomplished, Juilliard-trained classical musician when she began playing clubs in Atlantic City in the '50s, and lost out on millions in royalties for her early recorded standards like "I Loves You Porgy" and "My Baby Just Cares For Me." During the '60s, her jazz-influenced songs shifted focus to subjects like the murders of Medgar Evers ("Mississippi Goddam") and Martin Luther King Jr. ("Why? The King Of Love Is Dead").
After refusing to pay taxes to protest the Vietnam war, Simone went into exile in Barbados and later Southern France, where she lived out her remaining days until her death in 2003.
Her songs have been covered by everyone from Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin to Marilyn Manson, Timbaland and Lil Wayne.
So do you think Zoe Saldana could pull off Nina Simone in a big screen biopic? After all, Zoe's got her hair, got her head, got her brains, got her ears, got her eyes, got her nose, got her mouth, she's got her smile… you get the idea.