You will be redirected back to your article in seconds
Back to IndieWire

Apphia Campbell Channels Nina Simone In Shanghai Production ‘Black Is The Color Of My Voice’

Apphia Campbell Channels Nina Simone In Shanghai Production 'Black Is The Color Of My Voice'

Want to see Nina Simone depicted the way you think she should be?  Go to China.

Regular S&A readers should be all too familiar with the controversy surrounding the selection of Zoe Saldana to portray jazz legend Nina Simone in an upcoming biopic.  So I won’t bore you again with too many of the details.  For those of you who have been asleep for the past year, and don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it.

In short, some folks are upset about the fact that Saldana isn’t Simone’s doppleganger.  They also don’t appreciate the fact that Saldana dons a prosthetic nose and dark makeup for the role.

Well, for those of you who haven’t accepted it, and are still fuming about it, here’s your chance to see Nina depicted in a way that should suit your emotional needs.  Sort of.

Shanghai-based theater company Play The Spotlight (PTS) has produced a one-woman show loosely based on the life of Simone, titled Black Is The Color Of My Voice.  American actress Apphia Campbell, the show’s writer, stars as Mena Bordeaux, an “aspiring musical talent”, who shares her tale of “setbacks grounded in racial inequality,
experiences with domestic violence, the passion she put into the civil
rights movement, and ultimately, the alienation from her family”.  Black Is The Color Of My Voice is directed by Arran Hawkins and produced by Rami Abunameh.

Black Is The Color Of My Voice currently can be seen May 30 – June 2.

So– who’s going to China?

This Article is related to: News


Real lady

I found her fan page on Facebook. She's been sold out in China and getting great reviews.

M.M. Plumm

@Factchecker: She'll be taking the show to the Midtown International Theater Festival in NYC in July, so I hope *fingers crossed* you're wrong on that last point (though admittedly I know nothing about the politics of theatre). My thinking stands that if the show can garner the attention that it has during its first four days of running in China, it should expect a relatively strong reception with audiences back in the US who may be familiar with Nina Simone's music but not necessarily her life story. Here's hoping, anyway!


Wow! This is fascinating and sad all at once. Great for Appia, in that she's performing and able to provide a different view of black American life to the Chinese. Sad, that too many Americans who could benefit from seeing this performance never will because investors and producers of American theater would probably NEVER back it — at least as long as Appia is playing the lead.


I think the real complaint is that Zoe Saladna doesn't even reasonably resemble Nina Simone. If you're going to do an autobiographical picture — a biopic– shouldn't the person portraying the subject resemble her in some fashion?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *