Cynthia Mort, Nina Biopic Director, Says Movie Couldn’t Get Financed Without a Big Name

Actress Zoe Saldana 
Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Spike TV

Zoe Saldana’s much-talked-about Nina Simone biopic, Nina, is slated to be released Friday, and the film’s director is speaking out again about the controversial casting of Saldana as Simone.

In an interview with BuzzFeed, Cynthia Mort attempted to explain what went wrong with the film. Mort said that Saldana’s casting was a “creative move,” but also one that had a lot to do with financing.


“Certainly I would not have cast Zoe if I felt she was wrong for the role in a million years. Zoe’s amazing. She’s amazing in the movie,” Mort said. “She gave her all. She’s honest, she’s courageous, she’s fierce.

“However, long before I met Zoe, there were other people considered who were not acceptable to financiers,” Mort continued.

By “acceptable,” she meant they didn’t have the star power. Mort placed the blame on Hollywood executives and the people behind the movie’s financing.

“Go to those people,” Mort said. “Take a look at their lists. And find out how many black actresses are on their lists. Or how many women of a certain age are on those lists. Or how many women who look a certain way are on their lists. It’s really informative.”


Maybe Mort should have named some of those other actresses on the lists. It’s a shame that Simone’s legacy was dealt this huge blow by Hollywood.

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