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, and had been cast (Mary J. Blige & David Oyelowo in starring roles), and was booked to start filming at the end of May, last year (2011). 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. And 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 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," said Mary J Blige last year, adding, "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."
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? Adepero Oduye.
By the way, both photos at the top are of Adepero.