No one has been more immersed in the life of Nina Simone than Grammy nominee Meshell Ndegeocello. Her latest album, Pour Une Âme Souveraine: A Dedication to Nina Simone, is a tribute to the icon of soul and jazz. The critically acclaimed album features covers of Nina's most memorable songs like "Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," "Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair" and "Four Women." Tuesday night, Meshell, 44, performed at the Highline Ballroom in Manhattan and BET.com had an exclusive chat with the hip hop pioneer, which will be featured as an online exclusive next week.
In our one-on-one, we asked the “Outside Your Door” songstress about the controversy surrounding the casting of Zoe Saldana, 34, as Nina Simone in the long awaited biopic. “I watch documentaries for information. I watch films to be entertained.” She also stressed, “Allow the artist to finish the piece of work before you critique it.”
The Nina Simone biopic hasn’t started filming and only recently Mike Epps was cast to play Richard Pryor in the movie. Nonetheless, there is an ongoing debate if Zoe Saldana, who many say looks nothing like Nina, should be cast to play a woman who was proud of her dark-skin and beautiful features. Even Nina Simone’s daughter expressed disappointment with the casting of Saldana.
Is it racism? Meshell asks the public to give the Avatar actress a chance, “I think Zoe Saldana is an amazing actress. Out of respect for her craft, I'm just hoping she does a good job. Let’s hope the makeup artist and the other things are going on — and the script is the most important. Just give the artist a chance to create the work before you critique it.”
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(Photos from left: Mike Coppola/Getty Images, Mike Marsland/WireImage)