Nina, the biopic about indomitable musician Nina Simone, has been riddled with controversy and turbulence since its inception. And now the first trailer for the project is finally here.
The film, which stars Zoe Saldana as Simone and David Oyelowo as Simone's assistant and eventual manager Clifton Henderson, focuses on the years when Simone was living in France. Simone had left the United States in the '70s and rotated between living in the Netherlands, Liberia, Barbados, Belgium, England, Switzerland, and France before settling in France in 1992. She died in France in 2003.
The trailer is the first time audiences will see Saldana channel Simone and don dark makeup — one of the main points of controversy about the film. There was uproar when Saldana was first cast because some people felt she was too fair, too pretty, and too lithe to play Simone.
"Nina's music taps into a certain kind of awareness born of the way she looks," Lanita Jacobs, an anthropology professor at the University of Southern California, told NPR in 2012, explaining that Simone's music and her politics stemmed from experiencing life as a dark-skinned black woman.
And Marc Lamont Hill wrote in Ebony, "There is no greater evidence of how tragic things are for dark-skinned women in Hollywood than the fact that they can't even get hired to play dark-skinned women."
"I love her as an actress. Truly, I do, but not all people are meant to play certain parts," Kelly told the Huffington Post in 2015, referring to Saldana.
Nina hits theaters on April 22.