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Casting Call: Adepero Oduye For Nina Simone?

by Courtney
May 23, 2012 10:16 PM
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No Adepero Oduye hasn't been cast in the Nina Simone biopic that's long been in development, but, while I have the S&A floor, can I put in a request:

I know Mary J. Blige has been attached to a Nina Simone project for many years now, and it's not clear whether she's still involved, or whether the project is even still alive. Read Tambay's extensive 50+ Biopic Projects On Black Public Figures "In Limbo" post HERE if you haven't already. According to that post, which is the last S&A wrote about the film, the Mary J. Blige project was put on hold, reportedly so she could shoot Rock Of Ages.

As Tambay previously noted, the project had been financed to the tune of $10 million, cast (Mary J. Blige & David Oyelowo in starring roles), and was booked to start filming at the end of May last year. And then it was announced that shooting had to be delayed until October, because of Mary's work in Rock Of Ages with Tom Cruise.

Obviously October came and went by and nothing happened. So the project remains in Limbo, which I say is a good thing because, as much as I love Mary J. Blige as a musician, I think all these stops and starts, all the delays and postponements, can only mean one thing: that the movie gods felt a stronger actress choice for the part was coming, and coming soon; she would eventually show herself as "Alike" in Dee Rees' feature film debut Pariah.

Yes, I'm talking about Adepero Oduye. I think this a role that's waiting for her, whether today, or in a few years; even if only in terms of surface similarities. But stage and screen tested Adepero also has the smarts and the talent to portray Simone's uniqueness and complex, provocative personality; demonstrations of arrogance and brilliance, rage, vulnerability and pain. 

This is one project that just can't be average.

"I have a lot of YouTube [footage] of her to study her and I read about her and talked to different people about her... I need to become whoever she was and dig in... I got to get a piano coach and a dialect coach to play her. Acting is something that I'm testing and it's working. I don't think I'm gonna become Meryl Streep... but I'm going to do the stuff that people believe in me for," said Mary J Blige last year.

Props on the effort in prepping for the part - genuinely so. But (there's always a "but")... I'm not one to stump on someone else's dream, but I'm also not very comfortable with "acting is something that I'm testing."

If this were a bit part, I'd say, ok... do your thang Mary J. Get your "testing" on.

But this is Nina Simone. No room for "testing" here. It's a one-shot deal, and whether or not it's done right, we probably won't get another chance anytime soon, if ever, in our lifetimes.

Also it's maybe a sign that she mentioned Meryl Streep in her comment. Whose name did Meryl Streep shout out when she delivered her Golden Globe acceptance speech for winning the award for Best Performance by an Actress?

By the way, both photos at the top are of Adepero.

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  • Grace | October 28, 2012 12:19 PMReply

    Everyone is furious about this. Zoe should never have even been in the running with Adepero present. Hollywood is always about money over quality.
    Zoe should have stepped back and suggested Adepero.

  • Nedjetti Harvey of | October 7, 2012 2:36 AMReply

    Hi, I styled Adepero Oduye's hair in the pic to the right which was published in TIME magazine 2.12...I also styled Adepero's hair for the NYC Steel Magnolias premiere, her tv appearance on The View and 106 and Park. And yes I feel Adepero would've made a superb Nina Simone!!!

  • Akimbo | August 13, 2012 2:03 PMReply

    FYI: Zoe Saldana is attached to play Nina Simone, David Oyelowo as Cliff Henderson, in a film written and directed by Cynthia Mort. I love Zoe, but I'm having a very hard time seeing this work.

  • Diane | August 8, 2012 7:53 AMReply

    Totally agree. 100%. This project will need actors skilled in the craft. Let us not continue the disrespect to Ms. Simone or to minimize her due. Yes, yes ansd yes for Ms. Oduye. I love Ms. Bilge, but not for this one.

  • KayeBaaby | June 26, 2012 11:02 PMReply

    I think Jasmine Burke would be perfect for this role. (Secret Life of the Bees, Meet the Browns , etc)

  • j.Dima | September 22, 2012 1:28 PM

    Nope, common Jasmine Burke? She bears no resemblance to Ms Simone.

  • yayadey | June 11, 2012 8:04 PMReply

    No one touch my grandma

  • dl | June 1, 2012 11:34 AMReply

    not really bothered about nina simone biopic great talent but she kinda the typical angry bw so not the kind of woman I want portrayed and put out there for the world to see as we already seen it time and time again- let's leave her legacy in tact.

  • j.dima | September 22, 2012 1:42 PM

    ....tis better to remain silent
    A black woman is angry so ALL black women are angry? Besides having a medical condition, how would a human being react in time when you are constantly told your skin colour is a problem? Walk around like everything is okay? Like it doesn't bother you? Why is it when a black woman has an opinion, she is "angry"? If something is wrong you express yourself in hopes that things will change. Would you prefer black women or anyone for that matter to just keep quiet when there is a blatant problem? How will things change if you walk around pretending everything alright?

  • Laura | June 1, 2012 11:53 AM

    Wow it amazes me the ignorant drivel on this blog that passes for commentary. Where can one begin. Could I say that she was a woman of her time? So her protest music reflected the political tension of the time. Can I mention that she had a medical condition (bi-polar) that affect her mental well being. She was a complex woman. But you were such a ignoramus.... Errr just forget it. I know you can't help yourself.

  • Ali | June 1, 2012 11:35 AM


  • Mandla | May 28, 2012 1:32 PMReply

    I will also say that Nicki Michaeux would also be a good choice. Since she's a bit older, solid acting chops and from the D!

  • Mandla | May 28, 2012 1:17 PMReply

    Adepero Oduye beautiful call. A perfect choice and for all the right reasons you noted. Respect to Mary but... This is Nina Simone. No half steppin.

  • tricep | May 28, 2012 11:33 AMReply


  • yayadey | June 11, 2012 8:05 PM


  • LeonRaymond | May 28, 2012 10:36 AMReply

    Adepero Oduye is one of the best choices, MJB is a horrendous actresses, it's not her thing, she is just awesome as a singer, but this project needs a actor, a some one to do a Daniel Day Lewis and go deep into the character. There may be other choices that can come forward but don't place a rapper or R&B singer or singer slash actor or Rapper slash actor -get a actor some one who studied their craft by working under esteemed acting coaches and teachers not a musical artist who's claim to fame is sampling. This film is as important as Malcom -X in that it needs to be held in that high regard!

  • Julius Hollingsworth | May 25, 2012 12:10 PMReply

    Adepero is a good choice of the known actresses out there but if we are talking about the Genuis choice in my book that would go to Lauren Hill, she was a pretty incredible many years before she became famous as a singer and rapper.If you watch Sister Act2 you can tell she understands a moment.She was in the table read for Beloved playing the role Kimberly Elise made famous.She only opted out of the film when she became pregnant.She I believe,was made to play Nina .FYI Lauren also has the technique to step on a ballet stage and dance with the ballerina's out in New Jersey they were salavating @ possibly letting that gift out of the box for New Jersey Ballet Company.Not that Nina has to dance,(lol) but Lauren is one of the most untapped treasures on the planet.I hope she gets her life in order and comes back and gives us at least one major film.

  • ojie imoloame | May 24, 2012 8:54 PMReply

    You are extrememly right. Adepero is the spitting image of Nina, it is insane. I would honestly love her as Nina, she can always be Nina in someone elses movie anyways. Afterall, there as tuns on Nelson Mandella's anyways, so she has a shot!

  • NO BRAINER | May 24, 2012 2:54 PMReply

    I have to agree. Adepero has a lot of talent and she looks like Nina Simone. Good call...

  • maradebe | November 6, 2012 7:41 PM

    Does she sing though? Can Adepero manage to embody the voice of Nina Simone without having to lip sync? My vote goes to Lauryn Hill who would personify the essence of Nina's emotions in spoken word and in song.

  • brother | May 24, 2012 2:08 PMReply

    Lauryn Hill!

  • yayadey | June 11, 2012 8:05 PM

    too cute

  • onyx | May 24, 2012 1:27 PMReply

    My vote is for Viola Davis. It's time for her to play a fiery, sexy and powerful woman. Nina was so inspirational during the civil rights movement.

  • Dawn | May 27, 2012 5:39 PM

    Yes! Playing Nina requires some maturity and a lot of acting chops.

  • Laura | May 24, 2012 7:41 PM

    I love Viola Davis, but she is to old to play Nina Simone in her prime.

  • Naima | May 24, 2012 1:21 PMReply

    mj blige? so wrong on so many levels and i like mj!

  • Donella | May 24, 2012 11:52 AMReply

    Adepero would be a great choice.

  • yayadey | June 11, 2012 8:06 PM

    she gotta to really step up for that

  • KD | May 24, 2012 10:59 AMReply

    Great pick. (low whisper: "i love you Mary but noooo.")

  • Peaceseeker | May 24, 2012 10:45 AMReply

    I think either Adepero or Nicki Michaeux would be a brilliant choice!! Adepero looks so much like her.

  • David | May 23, 2012 11:30 PMReply

    My vote is for Sarah Jones, who IS the closest thing to Meryl Streep for this generation. Unfortunately, she's too wrapped in her matchless monologuing and one woman shows to be on the cinematic radar. But once she gets out there --- likely, by adaptation of her plays and rhymes -- watch out.

  • LeonRaymond | May 23, 2012 11:24 PMReply


  • Shak | May 23, 2012 10:55 PMReply

    I say Adepero or Nicki Michaeux. Those photos above leave me speechless. I'm a huge Nina Simone fan, and... I don't know ya'll... I mean dang... I just don't know 'bout this here, but I'm always ready to be surprised.

  • sandra | May 23, 2012 10:35 PMReply

    Yes, I approve! I hope this puts an end to the ridiculous Mary J. Blige casting rumors.

  • Nadine | May 23, 2012 10:32 PMReply

    Drive-by... now this makes sense. Hopefully the person who has the role will do Nina justice... Oduye seems to have been born for this role.

  • Tian Richards | May 23, 2012 10:26 PMReply

    This role is either meant for Adepero or Dani Guirra. I like Mary musically but I think since the movie will be acting either of the two actresses above are a better fit. Because I mean face, Nina's unique vocals will have to be used for the music and the actress will lip-sync

  • intheknow | May 23, 2012 10:20 PMReply

    I know Adepero and think she's both an amazing person and actor. She would have made a solid choice but sorry to tell you, the role has already been cast...

  • wordblaze | May 24, 2012 11:38 AM

    yes, already cast for THIS biopic. But there will be others. Andre 3000 is set to play Jimi Hendrix...but Wood Harris KA-ILLLLLED da shih! BRILLIANT. Our heroes and sheroes deserve multiple interpretations and regardless of the next....Oduye...IS Nina Simone.

  • BluTopaz | May 24, 2012 8:14 AM

    lmao @ Bayard

  • Bayard | May 24, 2012 1:38 AM

    Oh lord, I bet it's Estelle.

  • Ladybug | May 23, 2012 10:29 PM

    From your tone Shadow & Act readers are going to be very unhappy . . . sigh

  • Micah | May 23, 2012 10:27 PM

    I hope they find someone equally talented.

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